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Brazil nuclear leader's arrest may stymie its atomic ambitions


Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:30pm EDT
Brazil nuclear leader's arrest may stymie its atomic ambitions
RIO DE JANEIRO | By Jeb Blount

The arrest of the longtime head of Brazil's nuclear energy utility on corruption charges could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s.

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, a retired admiral, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly taking 4.5 million reais ($1.35 million) in bribes from engineering firms working on the long-delayed Angra 3 nuclear power plant.

While its constitution commits Brazil to the peaceful use of atomic power, Pinheiro, 76, has for three decades been a central player in plans to finish Angra 3, build eight additional reactors and even a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.


"The industry was already in crisis, but now the corruption concerns are bound to delay Angra 3 further and cause costs to rise even more."


Iran's foreign minister calls for world's nuclear weapons states to disarm

Source: Guardian

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has called on Israel and the world’s eight other states with nuclear weapons to begin disarming, in response to his country’s acceptance of strict curbs on its nuclear programme in an agreement reached earlier this month.

Writing in the Guardian, Zarif argues that by agreeing to the Vienna deal, titled the joint comprehensive plan of action, Iran was honouring the spirit of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), in which states without nuclear weapons promise not to acquire them. But he says the nuclear weapons states are not keeping their side of the bargain by disarming.


Zarif makes three proposals: for negotiations to begin on a nuclear weapons elimination treaty; that this should lead initially to nuclear arsenals being taken off high alert readiness (for example, by removing warheads from missiles); and for the creation of a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

However, efforts to agree on further steps towards disarmament and the creation of a WMD-free zone in the region failed at a global conference in May to reinvigorate the NPT, which ended in acrimony. With his commentary, Zarif is signalling Iran’s willingness, with the Vienna deal under its belt and as the current chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (a group that still functions on nuclear issues), to take on the leadership of the campaigns for disarmament and the WMD-free zone.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/31/iran-nuclear-weapons-states-disarm-israel

NPO launches digital archives on Fukushima nuclear disaster

Source: Kyodo

A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization has launched a digital archive of public documents on the 2011 nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, so people can examine whether administrative bodies have pursued appropriate policies since the disaster started.

There are currently over 3,000 documents organized by Access-Info Clearinghouse Japan on file, totaling some 60,000 pages obtained from central government offices and local-level authorities through freedom-of-information requests or from the home pages of each administrative body.


“It is necessary to create conditions to allow people to access these documents even 20 or 30 years later to ensure effective follow-up on radioactivity impact, which must have a late onset, and examine policies over the disaster as it will take a long time to put it under control,” she added.


The NPO has worked toward enhancing the information disclosure system to secure people’s right to know. Recently, it filed a lawsuit to seek the disclosure of a government report examining its policymaking process for Japan’s support in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 2003, which was based on the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.


The URL of the archives, which is available without charge and only in Japanese, is www.archives311.org.

Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/31/national/npo-launches-digital-archives-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

Tokyo Electric executives to be charged over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Source: Reuters

A Japanese civilian judiciary panel on Friday forced prosecutors to indict three former Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) (Tepco) executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The decision is unlikely to lead to a conviction of the former executives, after prosecutors twice said they would not bring charges, but means they will be summoned to appear in court to give evidence.

Tokyo prosecutors in January rejected the panel's judgment that the three should be charged, citing insufficient evidence. But the 11 unidentified citizens on the panel forced the indictment after a second vote, which makes an indictment mandatory.


Citizens' panels, made up of residents selected by lottery, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan's legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/31/us-japan-nuclear-prosecution-idUSKCN0Q50FJ20150731

Here's a congressman who can actually understand Iran nuclear deal

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

For weeks now, Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., has been studying the Iran nuclear deal. Unlike every other lawmaker, Foster is the only one in Congress who can actually understand the highly technical agreement and check it out for himself.

“Unfortunately, there are many technical pathways to a bomb, each of which has to be investigated,” said Foster, who is undecided on whether to support the deal.

Foster earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and spent 22 years as a particle accelerator designer at Fermilab in suburban Batavia before jumping into politics.


Said Foster, “If there are fundamental, gaping technical flaws, things the Iranians can drive a truck through, then this agreement does no one any good at all. So. the first order of business is to do my best to convince myself that those sort of flaws don’t exist or let people know about them if I see them.”

Read more: http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/837554/heres-congressman-can-actually-understand-iran-nuclear-deal

Top French Official Contradicts Kerry on Iran Deal


Top French Official Contradicts Kerry on Iran Deal
12 Jul 30, 2015 1:52 PM EDT
By Josh Rogin


The French official, Jacques Audibert, is now the senior diplomatic adviser to President Francois Hollande. Before that, as the director general for political affairs in the Foreign Ministry from 2009 to 2014, he led the French diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 group. Earlier this month, he met with Democrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Mike Turner, both top members of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the Iran deal. The U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, was also in the room.

According to both lawmakers, Audibert expressed support for the deal overall, but also directly disputed Kerry’s claim that a Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would result in the worst of all worlds, the collapse of sanctions and Iran racing to the bomb without restrictions.

“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage,” Sanchez told me in an interview. “He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.”


He told them that if U.S. sanctions were kept in place, it would effectively prevent the West from doing extensive business in Iran. “I asked him specifically what the Europeans would do, and his comment was that the way the U.S. sanctions are set in, he didn’t see an entity or a country going against them, that the risk was too high,” Sanchez said.

Audibert also wasn’t happy with some of the terms of the deal itself, according to Sanchez and Turner. He said he though it should have been negotiated to last forever, not start to expire in as few as 10 years. He also said he didn’t understand why Iran needed more than 5,000 centrifuges for a peaceful nuclear program. He also expressed concerns about the robustness of the inspections and verification regime under the deal, according to the lawmakers.


Next-generation nuclear reactors may not be safer: French watchdog


Next-generation nuclear reactors may not be safer: French watchdog
PARIS | By Geert De Clercq
Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:17pm EDT

The next generation of nuclear reactors being developed in countries such as France, Russia, China and Japan may not be safer than those being built today, French nuclear safety watchdog IRSN said on Monday.

In a study of six future reactor designs being worked on by the U.S.-led "Generation IV International Forum", the IRSN said only the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) model was far enough along in the development process to envisage building a prototype during the first half of this century.

But it could not say whether it would be safer than models currently being built for service.

"While it seems possible for SFR technology to guarantee a safety level at least equivalent to that targeted by generation III pressurised-water reactors, IRSN is unable to determine whether it could significantly exceed this level," it said.


The agency also questioned the degree to which the reactor would be able to burn up "actinides", among the most dangerous by-products of nuclear fission.

4G advocates argue that SFRs would reduce the amount of nuclear waste and the need for deep storage, but the IRSN said this feature offered "only a very slight advantage", which would not be the deciding factor in the choice of future reactors.


Cecil the Lion vs Cecil the Dragon.

I am outraged about Cecil the Lion.
And every time I hear Cecil, I think of Cecil the Dragon, from a well-loved childrens program.


Floating wind turbine of 7 MW anchored off Fukushima today

Source: SeeNews

A 7-MW MHI SeaAngel turbine was anchored on Wednesday off the Japanese coast under the Fukushima floating offshore wind farm demonstration project (Fukushima FORWARD).

The oil pressure drive-type floating wind turbine is expected to commence demonstration operation later in 2015, joining a 2-MW machine which has been online since November 2013. Next year, the third and last piece of the demonstration project will fall into place with the floating of a 5-MW Hitachi turbine.

Finally... The world's largest floating offshore wind turbine has just been anchored outside #Fukushima! #milestone pic.twitter.com/rowtsTyrDD
— Johan Sandberg (@JohanSSandberg) July 29, 2015

All in all, the project consortium will aim to expand the scheme to 1 GW by the end of the decade, when it will use a total of 140 floating offshore wind turbines, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said. The project is sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).


Read more: http://renewables.seenews.com/news/floating-wind-turbine-of-7-mw-anchored-off-fukushima-today-486189

Virgin Galactic: 'Single human error' led to catastrophic crash, NTSB says

Source: Los Angeles Times

Federal safety officials Tuesday blamed the builder of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo for failing to anticipate the copilot error that caused the aircraft's disintegration during a test flight nine months ago.

The staff of the National Transportation Safety Board, at a meeting in Washington, initially listed the probable cause as copilot Michael Alsbury's premature unlocking of the space plane's "feather system," or movable tail.


But after a discussion, the NTSB staff revised the probable cause, placing most of the blame on Scaled Composites, which had designed and built SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic.

The NTSB blamed Scaled for failing to consider "that a single human error could result in a catastrophic hazard."


Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ntsb-virgin-20150727-story.html
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