Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

25th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs

25th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs

Is Every Accident The Fault of the Nuclear Industry?


US Faces Substantial Obstacles to Increasing Rare Earths Production

Reader James S. highlighted a useful article at the MIT Technology Review, “Can the U.S. Rare-Earth Industry Rebound?” Our only quibble to this solid piece is its summary, which underplays some critical aspects of the article:
The U.S. has plenty of the metals that are critical to many green-energy technologies, but engineering and R&D expertise have moved overseas.
In fact, the while the article does discuss US versus foreign engineering expertise in rare earths mining, it describes in some detail how difficult rare earths mining is in general (more accurately, not the finding the materials part, but separating them out) and the considerable additional hurdles posed by doing it in a non-environmentally destructive manner. Thus the rub is not simply acquiring certain bits of technological know-how, but also breaking further ground in reducing environmental costs.
And this issue has frequently been mentioned in passing in accounts of why rare earth production moved to China in the first place. It’s nasty, and advanced economies weren’t keen to do the job. China was willing to take the environmental damage. For instance, the New York Times points out:
China feels entitled to call the shots because of a brutally simple environmental reckoning: It currently controls most of the globe’s rare earths supply not just because of geologic good fortune, although there is some of that, but because the country has been willing to do dirty, toxic and often radioactive work that the rest of the world has long shunned.
From the MIT Technology Review:
Getting from rocks to the pure metals and alloys required for manufacturing requires several steps that U.S. companies no longer have the infrastructure or the intellectual property to perform….
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Mountain Pass mine in California produced over 70 percent of the world’s supply. Yet in 2009, none were produced in the United States, and it will be difficult, costly, and time-consuming to ramp up again…
The two mines that will be stepping up production soonest are Mountain Pass, being developed by Molycorp, and the Mount Weld mine, which is being developed by Lynas, outside Perth, Australia. Mountain Pass has the edge of already having been established. But the company cannot use the processes used in the mine’s heyday: they’re both economically and environmentally unsustainable.
Several factors make purification of rare earths complicated. First, the 17 elements all tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits, and because they have similar properties, it’s difficult to separate them from one another. They also tend to occur in deposits with radioactive elements, particularly thorium and uranium. Those elements can become a threat if the “tailings,” the slushy waste product of the first step in separating rare earths from the rocks they’re found in, are not dealt with properly…
Mountain Pass went into decline in the 1990s when Chinese producers began to undercut the mine on price at the same time as it had safety issues with tailings. When the Mountain Pass mine was operating at full capacity, it produced 850 gallons of waste saltwater containing these radioactive elements every hour, every day of the year. The tailings were transported down an eleven-mile pipeline to evaporation ponds. In 1998, Mountain Pass, which was then owned by a subsidiary of oil company Unocal, had a problem with tailing leaks when the pipeline burst; four years later, the company’s permit for storing the tailings lapsed.
Meanwhile, throughout the 1990s, Chinese mines exploited their foothold in the rare-earth market. The Chinese began unearthing the elements as a byproduct of an iron-ore mine called Bayan Obo in the northern part of the country; getting both products from the same site helped keep prices low initially. And the country invested in R&D around rare-earth element processing, eventually opening several smaller mines, and then encouraging manufacturers that use these metals to set up facilities in the country.
Yves here. I’d be curious for input on this point from any informed readers. China has allegedly made R&D advances, but are these processes aimed at increased efficiency? If so, they’d give China a cost advantage, but not contend with environmental issues; indeed, it’s conceivable that the toll with these new processes is even worse. Back to the article:
By 2012, Molycorp expects to produce 20,000 tons a year, and under its current mining permits could double capacity to 40,000 tons. Sims also says the company will produce rare-earth products at half the cost of the Chinese in 2012. According to the company, these savings will be made possible by several changes, such as eliminating the production of waste saltwater. Molycorp will use a closed-loop system, converting the waste back into the acids and bases required for separation and eliminating the need to buy such chemicals. The company will also install a natural-gas power cogeneration facility onsite to cut energy costs.
But Ames Lab’s Geschneidner notes that one major source of cost in the separation process can’t be eliminated–the fact that it simply takes a long time. Milled rock is shaken again and again in a mixture of solvents to separate the elements by weight; depending on the ultimate purity that’s required, this must be done 10,000 to 100,000 times. The result is then sold as a concentrate or treated to produce rare-earth metal oxides.
Even if Molycorp does succeed in reducing the costs of separation by half, the next step in production may cause a hiccup. Rare-earth oxides and concentrates do have a market, for example as catalysts for the petroleum industry, but they can’t be made into magnets. To make magnets, rare-earth oxides must first be converted into pure metals, a process that produces caustic byproducts, and is done solely in China today. Sims says that Molycorp is investigating pathways that are environmentally friendly and aren’t covered under intellectual property owned by foreign companies. These metals must next be made into alloys suitable for the magnets, another capability that’s concentrated overseas, mostly in Japan and Germany.
The story is not quite as dire as one might conclude from this article, which focuses strictly on the US mining question. The US is not the only country looking to gear up its rare earth production. Rare earths can be extracted from used products, particularly cars. And some products can be designed to eliminate the use of rare earths, although the tradeoff is typically more bulk and weight. Nevertheless, it is clear that advanced economies will need to make a lot of adjustments, including more investments in R&D and product design, to contend with the challenge of rising demand versus constrained supplies of rare earths.

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U.S. Nuclear Plants Get the Iraq Treatment By MATTHEW L. WALD

The International Atomic Energy Agency, perhaps best known to Americans for inspecting nuclear sites in Iraq, has spent the last two weeks in the United States. Rather than Tuwaitha, the notorious facility south of Baghdad, it has been passing time in Peach Bottom, Pa., and Lower Alloways Creek, N.J. And in general, it liked what it saw, said Jukka Laaksonen, director general of Finland’s nuclear safety authority and the head of the delegation.
The inspections in Iraq between the two wars that coalition forces fought there were intended to sniff out any illicit weapons activities. In the United States, the agency embarked on a “peer review” at the invitation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The delegation of 14 experts from around the world, three observers and three agency staff members was invited to size up how well the American authorities monitor civilian power plants, including plant operations, and how the agency communicates internally.
Mr. Laaksonen said he was particularly impressed that each American reactor had its own “probabilistic risk assessment,” an analytical tool meant to predict the sequence of errors or equipment failures that could lead to an accident and to pinpoint vulnerabilities. More at:

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Successful U.S.-Japan Missile - Defense Test

Photo: In this image provided by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency a Standard Missile – 3 is launched Thursday from the Japanese destroyer JS Kirishima in a joint missile defense intercept test with the Missile Defense Agency in the mid-Pacific. The U.S. and Japanese militaries said Thursday the JS Kirishima fired an interceptor missile that shot down a separating medium-range missile target about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Missile Defense Agency/The Associated Press

U.S. And Japan Stage Successful Missile - Defense Test -- New York Times/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Japanese naval destroyer equipped with a Lockheed Martin Corp Aegis ballistic missile defence system carried out a successful flight-intercept test on Thursday in a "milestone" of growing cooperation, Japanese and U.S. forces announced.

The test focussed attention on mounting U.S. missile defence ties with Tokyo even as Washington urges its NATO allies to join in a NATO-wide shield prompted largely by concerns over Iran.

Japan's interest in missile shields jumped in August 1998 when North Korea test-fired a Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile that flew over Japan before falling in the Pacific.

Read more ....


Japan Tests SM-3 Ballistic Missile Interceptor 


More News On Yesterday's Successful Missile Defense Test

Japan tests U.S.-made ABM system -- UPI
Japan carries out successful missile-defense test -- Stars And Stripes
Japanese Warship Intercepts Missile in Test -- Global Security Newswire
Raytheon interceptor destroys another ballistic missile -- Seattle PI
Orbital Successfully Launches Medium Range Target for Joint U.S./Japan Missile Defense Test -- Market Watch
Japanese destroyer shoots down mid-range ballistic missile in test off Hawaii -- Canadian Press/AP


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Russia joins list of countries keen to supply nuclear plants to SA

Russia’s State atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, is providing South Africa’s Department of Energy with briefings on the latest generation of Russian nuclear power plants. The first such briefing took place in August, in Moscow, and the second should occur in Pretoria, probably before the end of this year.
The intention is that the second briefing will take place after the finalisation of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP 2010), which was issued in draft form earlier this month. Although the period for comment on the IRP2010 is likely to be extended, government still wants it to be finalised before the end of the year.
The IRP2010 identifies the country’s power generation options for the next 20 years. One of these is nuclear, and Russia wants to be one of the bidders for South Africa’s next nuclear power plant.
The Russian nuclear industry learned a great deal from the Chernobyl catastrophe in the Ukraine in the then Soviet Union, in 1986. As a result, modern Russian nuclear power reactors have multiple protection systems.
Since then, the Russians have focused their attention, like France and the US, on pressurised water reactors (PWRs) – abbreviated as VVER in Russian. According to the US Energy Information Administration, an American government agency, today’s VVER designs “conform to international standards”.
Russia is offering South Africa the latest generation of its VVER-1000 reactor in the AES-91/99 nuclear power plant design. (The Russians have separate designations for reactors and for the nuclear power plants). In 2003, the AES-91/99 design (including the reactor) was certified as complying with European Union standards by Finnish experts. The AES-91/99 uses the latest version – V-466 – of the VVER-1000 reactor (VVER-1000/466 for short). But other options are available. More at:

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Probe Into ICBM Glitch To Take Months By Megan Scully National Journal

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force’s No. 2 officer yesterday said that the military has launched a months-long investigation into the engineering failure that took 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles temporarily off-line at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming on Saturday (see GSN, Oct. 28).
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Energy Chief Calls For Review of Nuclear Projects from GSN Daily News

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has ordered an independent assessment of plans for a new plutonium research facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a new uranium processing plant in Tennessee, the Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday (see GSN, Aug. 27).
Chu has directed the formation of a panel of specialists with "no stake in the outcome" to analyze the necessity for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement complex at Los Alamos and the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, a department release said (see GSN, July 27).
The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement complex is planned to take the place of a World War II-era plutonium laboratory. Officials have maintained that the plutonium site's work is critical to fulfilling Los Alamos's nuclear weapons mission. The project is now estimated to cost no less than $4 billion -- a figure significantly greater than earlier estimates. Design activities have yet to conclude and the project has missed its original schedule by years.
Likewise, cost estimates for the Y-12 highly enriched uranium processing center have seriously overshot earlier informal estimates of between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion. News reports indicate the site could cost up to $5 billion to build.
Developing the two facilities is key to the Obama administration's pursuit of Senate ratification of a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control pact, the Journal reported. A number of Republican senators have said their potential support for the treaty would depend upon sufficient funding for modernizing the nation's nuclear-weapon complex (see related GSN story, today).
The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous arms of the Energy Department, has oversight over the two projects. The Energy and Defense departments have already initiated separate analyses of the facilities' funding requirements (John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 28).
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NATO, Nuclear Weapons and the New Strategic Concept By: Simon Lunn and Zachary Selden | Feature

With global support for nuclear arms control and disarmament gathering momentum, it might seem like an appropriate moment for NATO to fundamentally rethink its approach to the role that nuclear weapons play in its strategic posture. Instead, the alliance is likely to stress continuity, with nuclear weapons continuing to occupy a significant position in its new Strategic Concept.
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Global Insights: Toward a NATO-Russian Summit Bargain By: Richard Weitz | Column

Three of the most divisive issues separating NATO and Russia concern Iran's emerging nuclear weapons capability, the alliance's missile defense plans, and NATO and Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons. Looked at individually, each of these questions are difficult to solve. But if addressed in combination, then a package deal between NATO and Russia becomes more possible. More at:
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U.S.-India Space Cooperation Could Power Ties By: Saurav Jha | Briefing

U.S.-India Space Cooperation Could Power Ties

By: Saurav Jha | Briefing
For a number of reasons, space-based solar power may soon emerge as one of the leading sectors of strategic cooperation between India and the U.S. Neither SBSP nor the idea of an international partnership as an enabler for it is new. However, various technological advances that make SBSP a more realistic possibility now coincide with growing U.S. interest in India as a potential partner in such an endeavor. More at:  


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India Deal Puts China in GE's League

India Deal Puts China in GE's League

China is breaking into the top ranks of global power-equipment exporters with a $10 billion deal signed with India on Thursday.
By nabbing the deal with India, which is on an infrastructure spending spree, China poses a new competitive threat to established suppliers of technology such as General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Alstom SA.
China's new position is also evidence of a growing trend of emerging markets doing business among themselves, after years of focusing on trade with partners in developed nations. More at:


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Indonesian Government Eyeing Bangka Island for 2 Nuclear Power Plants

Jakarta. The National Nuclear Energy Agency on Thursday said it was looking for locations on Bangka Island to build two large nuclear power plants worth Rp 54 trillion ($6 billion).

Hudi Hastowo, the chief of the agency also known as Batan, said the agency had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bangka-Belitung provincial government on Tuesday regarding plans to build the nuclear plants on Bangka.

“We are doing the survey, but I have not yet received the results,” he said.

A Bipartisan Energy Solution: Nuclear Power By Joe Klein Read more: http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2027941,00.html#ixzz13lhW2pid

Opinion: 0% interest loans for plant construction would revive industry
President Barack Obama should consider pushing a nuclear plan that would help address the financing issues and red tape that are restricting the growth of the U.S. nuclear industry, writes Joe Klein. Providing "direct, no-interest construction loans" instead of loan guarantees would be a boost for the sector, he writes. Such a program would create up to 70,000 construction jobs, as well as help the U.S. reach its emissions-reduction and energy-independence targets, Klein adds.  More at: TIMEhttp://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2027941,00.html
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California nuclear group proposes new power station

California nuclear group proposes new power station
A California nuclear energy group recently proposed building a nuclear power station that would provide electricity for food processing and power desalination of waste water. Proponents of the plan say the three-decade-old state ban on new reactors is not applicable to thermal reactors with industrial uses and that the development would help solve California's "waste issue." TheEnergyCollective.com
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MiniFuji Thorium Reactor Group Talks to Potential Partners and Customers and Prototype GE-Hitachi Prism Integral Fast Reactor for Savannah River Gets Closer


China's Nuclear Reactors and Bridges and budgets and schedules

China's nuclear reactors are getting built for about US$2 billion per gigawatt of reactor. Nuclear skeptics have a tough time believing that China, South Korea and Asia in general can build for far about half cost of Europe and the USA. They think either the low cost estimates will not be realized in actual construction completion or that safety and other factors are compromised. I will review the recent costs of actual completions. I will also compare the situation with bridges. The cost and schedule of the Bay bridge with China's bridges.  More at:
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The World Deepwater Market Report 2010-2014 Douglas-Westwood Reports

Overview of the growing deepwater sector of the offshore industry and the value of world markets.  Report describes the key drivers behind the growth in deepwater activity, including the growth in global energy demand, the lack of shallow-water and onshore opportunities and new technological advances that improve the technical and economic feasibility of deepwater developments.
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Russia denies arms deals with Syria

Russia denies arms deals with Syriahttp://www.spacewar.com/reports/Russia_denies_arms_deals_with_Syria_999.html
Moscow (UPI) Oct 28, 2010 - Media reports claiming Russia will deliver MiG-31 fighter jets and supersonic anti-ship missiles to Syria are false, the head of the Russian arms export agency said. "The contract for deliveries of MiG-31s to Syria exists only in the tall tales of journalists," Anatoly Isaikin, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti. "Rosoboronexpor ... more
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Russia successfully test fires long-range missile: ministry

Moscow (AFP) Oct 29, 2010 Russia on Friday successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable Bulava intercontinental missile, the defence ministry said. The launch is the second successful firing this month after a string of embarrassing failures brought the programme to a halt for 10 months.
"The parameters of the trajectory worked out as planned and the warheads successfully landed at the Kura firing area," a defense ministry spokesman said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.
The missile was fired early morning from Dmitry Donskoy submarine in the White Sea in northwestern Russia, and hit the Kura firing area on the Kamchatka peninsula on the Pacific Ocean, 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) away.
The launch confirmed that Bulava's many failures were most likely caused by "assembly technology," said a source in the commission established to analyse the missile's production process and pinpoint what was causing it to fail.
Another launch, the 15th in all, is scheduled before the end of the year, the source said, Interfax reported. More at:
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Missile Defense Agency Selects Raytheon To Provide New Missile Defense Radar

The logo of the Missile Defense AgencyImage via Wikipedia
Tewksbury MA (SPX) Oct 29, 2010 - The Missile Defense Agency has awarded Raytheon a $190 million fixed price incentive fee contract to construct, integrate and test a new Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) radar. The AN/TPY-2 is the most capable and reliable radar currently deployed to defend against the ballistic missile threat. "The AN/TPY-2 provides a critical Ballistic Missile Defense capability for ... more
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South Korea favors short-range missiles

South Korea favors short-range missiles

South Korea said it favors a joint U.S-Korean missile defense system rather than the United States-led plan involving the purchase of longer range missiles. South Korea's anti-missile system, under the Korea Air Missile Defense program, is designed to protect the south from short-range missiles fired by North Korea while the U.S. system uses missiles to protect against medium- and long-range ballistic missile threats.
"South Korea and the U.S. will discuss intelligence sharing and operation of means regarding the missile defense system so as to protect the Korean Peninsula from the threats of North Korean nuclear weapons and its weapons of mass destruction at the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee," the ministry said in a statement.
"This does not mean that we will join the U.S. missile defense system. This means we will strengthen cooperation with the U.S. Forces Korea in the sharing of intelligence and operation of available assets to effectively respond to threats from North Korean ballistic missiles."
North Korea has short-range Scud and Rodong missiles with a range of around 850 miles and is thought to be developing longer-range Taepodong missiles that could reach the United States. The Taepodong-2, which on paper has the ability to reach the nearest Alaskan shore, was test-launched in 2006 but blew up after a flight of less than a minute.
Seoul has been careful about choosing its missile defense options for fear of antagonizing China, a staunch ally of North Korea. Any decision to acquire longer range missiles that also could reach Chinese cities might seriously ramp up military tensions in the region.
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ENERGY NEWS India suggests 'energy revolution'

Pratibha Patil as the Governor of Rajasthan.Image via Wikipedia

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers New Delhi (UPI) Oct 28, 2010 Indian President Pratibha Patil called for an "energy revolution" to help the country achieve energy security and fuel its economic growth. Addressing the growing divide between India's power demand and supply during the World Innovation Summit and Expo in Mumbai Wednesday, Patil said the country should pursue all available fuel options and forms of energy, whether conventional, non-conventional, new or emerging.
"It is time now for an energy revolution that will ensure our energy security," she said, Press Trust of India reports.
Figures from the federal Planning Commission show that India faces a 12 percent power shortfall during hours of peak consumption.
Energy should be available to sustain the country's growth and meet the aspirations of its people, Patil said, adding that the growth in demand for electricity has overtaken generation capacity.
"The capacity addition requires augmentation of manufacturing capacity of power equipment, skilled manpower and adoption of modern project management practices," she said.
Excerpts from a new report from the International Energy Agency, scheduled for release Nov. 9, show that nearly 404 million Indians don't have access to electricity, the Financial Times reports. India isn't expected to be fully electrified until 2030 and needs 245 electricity grids to do so, the IEA report states.
Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, told the Financial Times that even among those who do have electricity, many have just 100 kilowatts an hour per person per year, enough only for lights to function.
"They need at least 600 to 700 kilowatts an hour so that productivity can be enhanced, gross domestic product can increase and India can become more competitive," he said.
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Can the U.S. Rare-Earth Industry Rebound? by Katherine Bourzac

The U.S. has plenty of the metals that are critical to many green-energy technologies, but engineering and R&D expertise have moved overseas.
Read More »


Thursday, October 28, 2010

South Korean Reprocessing Bid Under Discussion from GSN Daily News

The United States and South Korea are in "very technical" discussions on Seoul's bid for authorization under a new nuclear cooperation treaty to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a senior Obama administration official said yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 26).
"Let me just say that that's an issue of ongoing diplomacy between the two sides, very technical," the Yonhap News Agency quoted U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell as saying. "We're working closely to ensure that there is an understanding of what expectations are, not only to the United States, but other authorities associated with this going forward."
The two allies' decades-old atomic trade deal, due to expire in March 2014, prohibits South Korea from reprocessing used plutonium or enriching uranium -- two processes that can be used to generate weapon material as well as fuel for civilian use. South Korea has vied for the right under a new agreement to use pyroprocessing techniques -- an experimental system that advocates say is more resistant to proliferation as it keeps the plutonium combined with other materials.
Washington and Seoul "discussed a proposed joint study of nuclear power reactor spent fuel disposition options, including pyroprocessing," the State Department said. "They agreed that technical experts would meet soon to work out the scope of the study and the venue and schedule for completing it.
"Both sides expect the new agreement to ensure the continuance and further development of the robust bilateral cooperation they have enjoyed in atomic energy for more than fifty years, as well as to further contribute to the strengthening of their alliance by enhancing cooperation in nuclear research and development, industry and commerce in the future," the department's statement adds (Hwang Doo-hyong Yonhap News Agency, Oct. 26).
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Nuclear States Must Work to Meet Nonproliferation Standards, Report Says from GSN Daily News by By Martin Matishak

WASHINGTON -- Nations known or suspected to hold nuclear weapons must do more to live up to their obligations under the modern arms control regime, an independent nonproliferation organization said today (see GSN, Nov. 18, 2009).
(Oct. 27) - An Indian nuclear-capable Agni 3 ballistic missile, shown on display in a parade last January. The independent Arms Control Association today graded nuclear-armed nations for their compliance with nonproliferation obligations (Raveendran/Getty Images).
The Washington-based Arms Control Association today issued its first-ever report card assessing how a number of countries have lived up to their existing nonproliferation commitments. Unlike similar documents issued by other groups, it refrains from making concrete suggestions on how better adhere to those goals.
The organization "set out to document what constitutes the mainstream of nonproliferation and disarmament behavior expected of responsible states," Daryl Kimball, the association's executive director, said this morning during an event at the National Press Club.
"Mainstream" refers to the body of obligations, standards and rules of behavior concerning nuclear weapons that has emerged and grown since the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, he explained.
The 79-page report gives grades to the five nuclear powers recognized by the treaty: China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The study also provides marks to nuclear-armed states India, Israel and Pakistan. It examines North Korea, which has a developing weapons capability, and Iran and Syria, which have come under international scrutiny for possible military atomic activities.
None of the states received an overall "A" grade. North Korea, which has violated various nonproliferation and disarmaments norms over the last two years, earned the only "F" mark. Iran and Syria, which the association labels as "states of concern," both earned "D" grades.
The report measures the performance of the 11 nations in 10 "universally recognized" nonproliferation, disarmament and nuclear security categories over the last 18 months, lead researcher Peter Crail told the audience this morning.
Those categories, which were given equal weight by researchers, measured states' movement toward:
* banning nuclear-weapon test explosions;
* ending the production of fissile material for weapons;
* lowering nuclear weapons alert levels;
* verifiably reducing nuclear force size;
* assuring non-nuclear weapons states they would not be subject to nuclear attack;
* establishing nuclear weapon-free zones;
* complying with international safeguards against the diversion of peaceful nuclear activities for weapons purposes;
* controlling sensitive exports;
* implementing measures to improve the security of nuclear material and facilities; and
* criminalizing and preventing illicit nuclear trafficking and nuclear terrorism.
Those initiatives are recognized by a majority of governments as essential elements to the global nonproliferation regime, Kimball said. More at:
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India Inks Key Atomic Liability Agreement from GSN Daily News

India yesterday signed a key international agreement that spells out liability norms for atomic energy incidents, a move that was requested by the United States to speed implementation of the 2008 U.S.-Indian nuclear trade pact, Reuters reported (see GSN, Oct. 25).
An Indian diplomat inked the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage at the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
Washington had called on New Delhi to sign the multilateral agreement to assuage the concerns of U.S. nuclear materials suppliers worried by new Indian legislation that permits lawsuits in certain cases against providers following an atomic accident. Traditionally, only the operators of nuclear plants have been held liable for incidents.
Some in India worry that signing the international liability accord would weaken the domestic Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill. A number of others, though, believe it will reassure nuclear firms and lead to increased foreign investment in the South Asian state's burgeoning atomic energy market.
However, "the CSC is silent on the right to recourse or on the limitations," argued Indian political analyst Praful Biwai. "By itself the CSC does not help American companies."
"So the Americans won't be very happy and will continue to press for some exceptions (in the domestic law)."
A Vienna-based Indian envoy said inking the international liability pact -- which has not yet entered into force -- fell under a series of promises the Indian government made to Washington during trade negotiations. Under the 2008 atomic pact, the Bush administration agreed to permit U.S. nuclear firms to export their technology and materials to nuclear-armed India, which in return agreed to open up its civilian atomic sites to IAEA monitoring.
The Obama administration lauded New Delhi's decision on the international convention.
"It is a very positive step to assure that international standards apply, and U.S. companies will have a level playing field to compete," Undersecretary of State William Burns said at a news briefing (Reuters, Oct. 27).
To date, four nations -- Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United States -- have ratified the CSC pact. With India's action yesterday, 14 countries have signed the convention, according to an IAEA release. In order to enter into force, the pact must be ratified by a minimum of five nations with at least 400,000 units of "installed nuclear capacity," the release states (International Atomic Energy Agency release, Oct. 27). More at:
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Lugar Concerned About Ratification of START from GSN Daily News by By Sara Sorcher

WASHINGTON -- Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) expressed concern yesterday that a lack of focus on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia during the midterm elections season may mean the arms pact doesn't get ratified during the Senate's lame-duck session next month (see GSN, Oct. 22).
(Oct. 28) - Russian Topol-M ICBMs, shown on display during a parade rehearsal in Moscow's Red Square in May. The U.S. Senate might fail in the period following next month's election to ratify a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, a top GOP senator said yesterday (Alexander Nemenov/Getty Images).

More at:  
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Proliferation Poses Broader Danger Than Terrorists, MI6 Chief Says from GSN Daily News

The United Kingdom's spy chief today asserted that WMD proliferation among nations could have more widespread effects than terrorist strikes on Western targets, Reuters reported (see GSN, Oct. 21).
The remarks by Secret Intelligence Service head John Sawers to a London audience followed the government's recently released National Security Strategy, which cited a terrorism attack on the United Kingdom as a greater threat than a nuclear strike.
"Terrorism is difficult enough, and despite our collective efforts, an attack may well get through. The human cost would be huge," said Sawers, who leads the foreign-intelligence gathering agency popularly known as MI6. "But our country, our democratic system, will not be brought down by a typical terrorist attack."
"The dangers of proliferation of nuclear weapons and chemical and biological weapons are more far-reaching. It can alter the whole balance of power in a region," he said (William Maclean, Reuters I, Oct. 28).
Sawers also said there was a strong need for vigorous vetting of intelligence findings, citing failures leading up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which was based largely on the assertion that the Hussein regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. Following the invasion, no operational arsenals or indicators of active WMD programs were found.
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More Fallout From Last Week's U.S. Missile Malfunction - Official Says Missile Malfunction Not A Sign Of Greater Problems -- CNN

More Fallout From Last Week's U.S. Missile Malfunction

Official Says Missile Malfunction Not A Sign Of Greater Problems -- CNN

Washington (CNN) -- A high-level Air Force official defended the capabilities of the U.S. nuclear arsenal Thursday, after the Air Force lost communication with 50 nuclear missiles last weekend.

"I don't think it signals a degradation," Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Carrol Chandler said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Read more ....http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/10/28/nukes.lost.communications/

More News On This Weekends Nuclear Missile Glitch

Lt. Gen. Jameson: ICBM shutdown had 'no real bearing on the capabilities of our nuclear forces' -- Democracy Arsenal
No Significant Threat From Missile Glitch, Officials Say -- U.S. Department of Defense
Computer problem blamed for missile site malfunction -- CNN
US nuclear missiles go offline after computer glitch: Report -- Economic Times
US Investigates Nuclear Missile Incident -- Voice of America
Mr President we've lost control of FIFTY nuclear warheads: Obama told how his arsenal was hit by 45-minute computer glitch -- The Daily Mail
Drunk American sergeant can press the red button any time -- Pravda
ICBM episode seized by START proponents, critics -- Laura Rozen, Politico
Did the ICBM Fiasco Kill New START? -- John Noonan, Weekly Standard
Nuclear Fail: Is START in Trouble? -- Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic
Nonsense about New START and ICBMs -- FAS Strategic Security Blog
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Washington Must Take a Stronger Stand on Russia-Venezuela Nuclear Deal Author: Jonathan Pearl, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow

 When Russia recently signed a deal to supply Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with nuclear reactors, the silence from Washington was deafening. The Obama administration was probably concerned that strong U.S. opposition to the deal could undermine cooperation with Moscow on several important fronts, and that it could give the adversarial President Chavez a propaganda windfall. These concerns are not without merit, but they are also not an excuse for inaction.
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The Energy / Climate-Change Challenge and the Role of Nuclear Energy in Meeting It, Video of the David J. Rose lecture

Video of the David J. Rose lecture, The Energy / Climate-Change Challenge and the Role of Nuclear Energy in Meeting It,” is here:


The Week in Energy and Climate from the White House

The Week in Energy and Climate
Yesterday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal for the first national standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses. This step is a win for the environment, energy independence and our economy.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the largest solar energy project ever to be built on U.S. public lands. When constructed, the Blythe Solar Power Project will produce up to 1,000 megawatts of solar power, or enough to power 300,000 – 750,000 homes.
On Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack outlined the steps that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking to reach a national goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuel a year in the United States by 2022, with 21 billion gallons coming from advanced biofuel production.
Learn more about other Obama Administration events in commemoration of National Energy Month, a national effort to underscore how energy is central to our national prosperity, security, and environmental well-being, here.
DOT, EPA Propose Nation's First-Ever Emissions, Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks and Buses
October 25, 2010
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announce a proposal for the first national standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses.

Boosting Advanced Biofuel Production and Creating Jobs
October 22, 2010
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explains that the Administration's vision for rural America combines new technologies and new markets with better use of our natural resources -- more home grown biofuels and renewable energy.

A Discussion on Clean Energy in Missoula
October 22, 2010
White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley travels to Missoula, Montana, to discuss America's energy future at the 20th Annual Conference for the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Leading by Example: VA Funds Solar Energy Projects at Hospitals, Clinics, Cemeteries
October 22, 2010
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awards $78 million in contracts to build solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at VA facilities nationwide.

Iowa Conservation Partnerships
October 21, 2010
Jess Maher, Associate Director for Legislative Affairs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, travels to Iowa to learn about partnership-based efforts to support natural resource conservation.

Building Stronger, Sustainable Communities Through Strategic Coordination
October 21, 2010
The Obama Administration announces a combined $742 million in grants and assistance to support the creation of more livable and sustainable communities across the country.

Empowering Defense Through Energy Security
October 18, 2010
The Department of Defense (DoD) hosts an Energy Security Forum as part of National Energy Awareness Month to discuss how the Department of Defense can turn energy use from a strategic and operational challenge to a key strength for the warfighter.

Blog Action Day: Protecting America’s Waters Today
October 15, 2010
As part Change.org's Blog Action Day, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson reflects on the importance of protecting America's clean water supply.

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