Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How Can Selling Nuclear Energy to the Saudis be a Good Idea?


Nuclear proliferation is a direct effect of the nature and operations of the nuclear complex. In the US, both Democrats and Republicans have promoted nuclear technology abroad to enrich US and allies' nuclear industries and to entice countries into the US nuclear fold, whose limits on recycling and enrichment are clearly ignored by some nations.

Today the Saudis are eager for developing their "civilian" nuclear arsenal. They will probably buy from China, Russia, Japan or South Korea if the US doesn't sell but still, how can policy makers not see the obvious hazards of a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia (civilian nuclear can always beget war nuclear):
Michael Gordon (2018, December 17). Lawmakers want more say in potential Saudi nuclear deal. The Wall Street Journal, p. A6
The Trump administration's push to sell civilian nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia is emerging as the next battleground in the struggle between the White House and Congress over US policy toward Riyadh following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

The sale of nuclear technology to the Saudis has been an ongoing issue and concern across 2018, see here:
Michael R. Gordon, Timothy Puko, Summer Said (2018, February 20). U.S. Pursues Saudi Nuclear Deal, Despite Proliferation Risk. The Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-resistance-to-nuclear-standards-could-roil-u-s-reactor-deal-1519122600?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=4
The main concerns are Saudi's refusal to accept enrichment and reprocessing curbs.

These are the same concerns that were raised when Obama sold nuclear technology to the Chinese (although the difference is that the Chinese already had nuclear weapons and a nuclear agreement with the US), with passage of this act in 2016: 
(US) H.R.5370 - U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation and Nonproliferation Act of 2016
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5370/text
In response to proliferation concerns, the China agreement (linked above) expressly prohibits diversion of US nuclear items for military use. 

However, that prohibition is likely to be dropped should war ever appear directly on the horizon (I know the US wouldn't hesitate to unleash restraints given its past record).

Why does nuclear proliferate despite the known risks for weapons' escalation and/or proliferation?

Obama had to sell nuclear to the Chinese, just as today Trump has to sell nuclear to the Saudis. 

The US currently has bilateral agreements with “with 22 countries, plus Taiwan” for “peaceful use of nuclear power.” Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia, have expressed interest in clearing obstacles to building US designed nuclear reactors. Westinghouse has been pushing nuclear reactors in China since 2006:
“In December 2006, Westinghouse Electric — majority-owned by Toshiba — signed an agreement to sell its AP1000 reactors to China. Four are under construction, six more are planned, and the company hopes to sell 30 others, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).”

China tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964 and has an arsenal of approximately 250 nuclear warheads. It already has on-hand enriched uranium and plutonium supplies capable of producing vast quantities of nuclear weapons.

Fuel reprocessing is emerging as a major issue. China claims it wants to use Plutonium in its fuel mix in civilian nuclear plants.
 So, China is saying it wants to use MOX fuel in civilian nuclear power plants. Experts say china already has enough highly enriched uranium and plutonium to make hundreds of bombs so the implied claim is that China is really simply interested in reprocessing to create MOX fuel. 

Critics are not convinced the Obama agreement prevents proliferation of nuclear weapons and may give China the technology to make its nuclear subs much quieter, despite guarantees for IAEA access: 
[Sokolski is Executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center is being quoted]:   “Sokolski said the agreement proposed by Obama lacks a requirement for explicit, case-by-case U.S. permission for a reprocessing project using American technology or material from U.S. reactors. It gives consent in advance. And he fears that over the 30-year life of the new 123 agreement, China might want to compete with Russian and U.S. arsenals and make more bombs, for which plutonium is the optimal material.”
It seems very clear from this story that the nuclear complex's logic of replication eclipses any other decision-frame, even when replication will engineer more catastrophic risks into our global nuclear infrastructures.

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Socially Responsible Financial Innovation Necessary for Sustainable Economies


One of the most hopeful dimensions of solar energy production concerns ownership. The means for extracting and distributing solar energy are conducive to local ownership. 

The big utilities – whether government or privately owned – are often not conducive to sustainable energy transformations because they seek to maintain their existing infrastructures. We’ve seen the alarming consequences of this dependence on risky twentieth century infrastructures in the nuclear energy sector. 

But solar can be owned and operated by discrete individuals and small communities. 

Community ownership of the means of energy production is foundational for self-determination. 

A must read article by Ellen Brown explores how a "green new deal" could be made financially feasible:
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/this-radical-plan-to-fund-the-green-new-deal-just-might-work/

Please see my presentation here for a more detailed development of this argument: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gj2x5v03u05mrl4/Energy%20and%20Poverty%20Nadesan%202018.pdf?dl=1

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Inciting Violence V Peaceful Democratic Advocacy


"...the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and towns and halls...."


I've always interpreted that phrase by Simon and Garfunkel to mean that the truths of the common people are inscribed in their graffiti, literature, art, etc. And these truths reveal the world as lived and experienced by the majority of the people.

I am one of those people who reads the words of the people, as expressed in student stories and online social media issues and value orientations.

The words of the people this last 6 months have expressed more crises and tensions. Chaos. Turbulence.

And anger. Last night I saw a comment to a story on alleged academic censorship on Blacklisted News that clearly incites violence against academics (here). I can tell you that the academic world described in that article has nothing to do with the reality I've experienced at 3 major public universities and one private one.

What worries me the most is the emotional economies of the comments.  I have seen a trend toward more comments inciting violence at "alternative" news sites, also including Zero Hedge and SOTT.

It seems to me that some agent or agents are deliberately inciting violence within the populace, directed at the intelligentsia (particularly female and African American academics) and other social groups, to DEFLECT ATTENTION from worsening environmental catastrophes, growing economic precarity and inequality, and structural adjustments designed to de-collectivize risk, returning to nineteenth century Darwinian logics of government.

There are multiple centers of power that seek to engineer public opinion using propaganda tactics, as I've discussed quite frequently at this blog. I'm sure that there are many agents of corporate, government, and private power circulating the web planting comments aimed at inciting outrage, which lessens inhibitions against violence (e.g., see http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2018/07/social-engineering-koch-brothers.html).

This discussion of propaganda bent on division does not presuppose that the culture of the common people is free from conflict.

Cultural fragmentation is at some level inevitable, given we have different interests and politics always infuses our relations, but messages that incite violence are a foundational threat to democracy.

The French have it right when it comes to standing up and expressing their voice.

The process of expressing voice is key to democratic politics.

Breakdowns in understandings can be addressed through demonstrations, but the key is civil disobedience and no violence.

These are strategic imperatives, not merely ideological ones, because the state will always win when it comes to the power of its policing, especially today.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Lights in Fukushima Daiichi's Harbor


The last two days I have seen (presumably) boat lights in Fukushima's harbor.

One would imagine seeing lights in the harbor would be a routine occurrence, but has been for me an unusual experience.

You can see two lights (red and green) in the background of units 1 and 2 in this screenshot from Cam 1:



Today the lights are red and green but yesterday they were white:


My guess is that some work is being conducted in the harbor. Years ago the media reported that hot nuclear debris were bulldozed into the harbor immediately after the disaster.

There has never been any authentication of this report, but over time I've seen some strange light from the harbor.

Here is a screenshot from 2014 from Cam 4 that illustrates what I mean by strange lights