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The Father Of Iran's Nuclear Program Recalls How It All Began


The Father Of Iran's Nuclear Program Recalls How It All Began
By Golnaz Esfandiari
July 03, 2015

It was late in 1973 when Akbar Etemad got the call -- the shah wanted to discuss ways to launch a nuclear program that would cement Iran's place among the world's modern nations.


"Right now we don't need a nuclear weapon because Iran is a major regional power," Etemad recalls the shah saying. But if in the next 10, 15, or 20 years the regional military balance changed, the shah added, "then we would have to see what needs to be done."

As a result, Etemad worked to ensure that if Iran ever decided to build a bomb, it would be able to do so.


Asked whether Tehran's nuclear program was worth the pressure the country has faced, Etemad replies with a simple "No."


Iran's nuclear program may have cost the country $500 billion or more


Iran's nuclear program may have cost the country $500 billion or more
Armin Rosen
Jun. 30, 2015, 11:18 PM

The Iranian nuclear program has been astronomically costly for the Islamic Republic.

A 2013 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report authored by Iran analyst Karim Sadjapour estimated that the total cost of construction, operation, research, and nuclear-related international sanctions totaled around $100 billion.

In a June 29th conference call, Sadjapour said that bill may really be as much as $500 billion.

The dollar cost belies other, less quantifiable repercussions of the nuclear program. For example, nuclear-related sanctions have cut Iran off from foreign markets, leading to a demoralizing long-term economic trough.


A group of Nobel Laureates have signed a declaration calling for urgent action on climate change

Source: Quartz

In 1955, partly out of urgency and partly out of guilt, a group of 52 Nobel Laureates signed a declaration on Mainau Island in Germany calling for an end to the use of nuclear weapons. The work of some of these prizewinners—including that of Otto Hahn, who discovered nuclear fission—was used to build nuclear weapons. They were horrified their work was turned into technology that could kill billions.

Now, 60 years on, again out of a mix of urgency and guilt, a group of 36 Nobel prizewinners have signed a new Mainau Declaration (pdf) calling for urgent action on climate change. The document is open for other Nobel Laureates to join.

The discoveries of these signatories have mostly improved the quality of life of people around the world, but they now stand horrified at the prospect of what unchecked use of natural resources could do to the future.


Here is the 2015 declaration in full:


Read more: http://qz.com/444787/a-group-of-nobel-laureates-have-signed-a-declaration-calling-for-urgent-action-on-climate-change/

How the next US nuclear accident could happen - by Hugh Gusterson


How the next US nuclear accident could happen
Hugh Gusterson
06/30/2015 - 22:10

You learn a lot about a society from the way its accidents happen.

Safety analysts have found that Korean plane crashes were facilitated by a culture in which junior pilots do not challenge senior pilots, even when keeping quiet may result in their own deaths. Respect for elders, highly valued in Korean culture, can be a danger.

Meanwhile Sonja Schmid, in an excellent book on the 1986 Chernobyl disaster published earlier this year, has connected that fateful nuclear accident to a wider Soviet culture that insisted its own reactors not mimic American ones, and in which designers of nuclear power plants were siloed in a separate organization from the operators, whom they treated as a lesser breed with little need to understand in detail how their plants worked.

And what of the United States?

We can learn a lot about the potential for safety failures at US nuclear plants from the July 29, 2012, incident in which three religious activists broke into the supposedly impregnable Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Fort Knox of uranium. Once there, they spilled blood and spray painted “work for peace not war” on the walls of a building housing enough uranium to build thousands of nuclear weapons. They began hammering on the building with a sledgehammer, and waited half an hour to be arrested. If an 82-year-old nun with a heart condition and two confederates old enough to be AARP members could do this, imagine what a team of determined terrorists could do.

We have a detailed understanding of this incident thanks to energetic reporting by Frank Munger, Dan Zak, and, finally, a recent tour de force account in the New Yorker by Eric Schlosser, who has established himself as the premier reporter on nuclear accidents waiting to happen. Their cumulative reporting suggests that the Achilles’ heel of US nuclear safety culture lies in a fondness for automated security technologies, the delegation of government functions to private contractors, and a predilection for hollow facsimiles of effective audit procedures.


Labor-force participation drops to lowest level since 1977

Source: Market Watch

When the labor-force participation rate was last this low, Han Solo and Chewy were on an intergalatic quest for jobs.

The last time there was such a small percentage of Americans in the work force, “Star Wars” was in the theaters and Reggie Jackson was breaking home-run records in the World Series.

The labor force participation rate declined by 0.3 percentage point in June to 62.6%, the lowest rate since October 1977.

What accounts for June’s downturn is likely to be the timing of school graduations — the seasonally adjusted participation rate of 16-to-19 year olds dropped sharply, to 36.7% from 37.4%. That’s even though the raw numbers showed, quite logically as some schools ended, a big upturn in participation to 43.4% from 36.7%.


But the bigger story in participation, the drop from Clinton-era participation in the 67% range, is a combination of baby boomers hitting retirement (the bigger factor) and other people who have given up trying to get a job.


Read more: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/labor-force-participation-drops-to-lowest-level-since-1977-2015-07-02

Russia's Military Satellite Delay Leaves Country Vulnerable To Nuclear Missile Attacks: Report

Source: International Business Times

Russia may be working on modernizing its strategic missile force by developing advanced nuclear missile systems, but the country is itself vulnerable to similar attacks after delaying the launch of a new satellite-based missile warning system by four months, local media reported Wednesday.

The launch of the military satellite system has been postponed until November, leaving Russia blind in the event of a potential nuclear missile attack, The Moscow Times reported. The country’s aging Soviet-era early warning satellites seriously malfunctioned last year when one of three units went offline, followed by the decommissioning of the remaining two satellites in January.

Russia has been relying on land-based radar systems to detect incoming missiles ever since the malfunction crippled its satellite-based missile warning system. However, according to experts, the radar systems are not as effective as satellites in warning about incoming missiles because they can only detect objects within a specific range, The Moscow Times reported.


Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces, the military unit that operates early warning satellites, was expected to launch the new military satellite system, dubbed “united space system,” also called EKS, in July. The new system, which will include 12 EKS satellites, closely integrates with ground-based early warning radars to provide extensive details on global satellite launches.


Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/russias-military-satellite-delay-leaves-country-vulnerable-nuclear-missile-attacks-1991565

Tepco ordered to pay over suicide linked to nuclear evacuation

Source: Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday was again held responsible for a suicide linked to the 2011 nuclear crisis and ordered to pay damages.


It is the second time that a court has determined there was a link between the nuclear disaster and a suicide, and ordered the utility to pay damages.


Although more than four years have passed since the powerful earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, triggered the country’s worst nuclear crisis, suicides linked to the event continue as more than 100,000 people remain evacuated in and around Fukushima.

Sixty-nine suicides in Fukushima Prefecture committed by the end of May have been deemed linked to the earthquake-tsunami or nuclear disasters, according to the Cabinet Office.


Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/30/national/crime-legal/tepco-ordered-pay-suicide-linked-nuclear-evacuation/#.VZKp59Hn9dg

Quick: Read The Planetary Society Mars Plan While It Is Free


Quick: Read The Planetary Society Mars Plan While It Is Free
By Keith Cowing on June 29, 2015 7:06 PM. 4 Comments

In April 2015 the Planetary Society held an invitation-only "Humans Orbiting Mars" workshop wherein they unveiled their idea for a mission to Mars. At a quick press conference after the event (no media were allowed to attend the workshop) the Planetary Society promised more detail would be made public - later. Since then nothing but crickets. Well, it now looks like the Planetary Society Mars plan is now online - but only for a few weeks - then you will have to pay to read it. An article on the grand plan by Scott Hubbard will only be online here until 29 July 2015. I do not see any mention of this report's availability on the Planetary Society website. I am not sure how far a mission concept like this is going to get if no one can read the details. Given that most of these new space policy ideas have been semi-secret lately it would seem that the authors are not really interested in any meaningful public engagement.

- Stealthy Humans Orbiting Mars Workshop Update, earlier post
- Making Space Policy In Secret (Again), earlier post
- Good News Everyone: Another Closed Door Humans to Mars Thing, earlier post

The plan is at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/space.2015.0018

U.S., Iran trade accusations of backtracking in nuclear talks

Source: Los Angeles Times

As negotiators battle over the final terms of a nuclear agreement, Iran and six world powers have begun bickering over an important side issue: who gets the blame if the deal falls through.

In recent days, as diplomats have huddled in a porticoed 19th century palace in Vienna, the Austrian capital, Western officials have accused the Iranians of backtracking on commitments they made in a preliminary deal reached April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Officials have pointed to comments by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who last week appeared to lay down tough new terms that contradicted what U.S. officials say had been agreed to three months ago.

Iranian officials countered, saying U.S. officials also have been backtracking, but they seem increasingly worried that if the talks break down this week, the international community will hold their side primarily responsible.


If Iran is held responsible for a breakdown of the 2-year-old talks, many countries would be far more willing to continue — or even intensify — economic sanctions that have badly battered Iran’s economy. Iran has been hoping that the United States would get blamed for intransigence and the world community would drop sanctions and start doing business again with the long-isolated Islamic Republic.


Read more: http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iran-talks-20150629-story.html

The finger-pointing has begun.

SpaceX rocket explosion: 'It's space and it's difficult'

SpaceX rocket explosion: 'It's space and it's difficult'
Published on Jun 28, 2015

An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station broke apart minutes after liftoff. As engineers analyze flight data to pinpoint what went wrong, NASA and SpaceX officials emphasize no negligence was involved.

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