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Nuclear weapons 2011: Momentum slows, reality returns

This article is an excellent discussion of the potential nuclear weapons proliferation consequences related to the spread of civilian nuclear energy reactors.
About the author:
Steven E. Miller is director of the International Security Program, editor-in-chief of the quarterly journal International Security, and co-editor of the International Security Program’s book series, Belfer Center Studies in International Security (published by the MIT Press). Previously, he was senior research fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and taught defense and arms control studies in the department of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is co-author of the monograph War with Iraq: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2002). Miller is editor or co-editor of more than two dozen books including, most recently, Going Nuclear (MIT Press, 2010) and Contending with Terrorism (MIT Press, 2010).

Nuclear weapons 2011: Momentum slows, reality returns
Steven E. Miller


If 2010 was the year of successes and landmarks for arms control, 2011 was the year that the momentum of the new era slowed, and hard realities were made apparent. By the end of the year, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty had not been ratified or even seriously discussed, and negotiations on the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty remained stuck in the Conference on Disarmament, with no sign of success in the offing. The author takes a look at five events that unfolded in 2011 and that seem certain to cast a powerful shadow in months and years to come. He writes that both the spread of nuclear technology in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and the revision of the export control regime pose a threat to the long-term structure of the global nuclear order. The crisis with Iran continues to present a serious challenge to the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime while raising the risk of a military response. A conference on a Middle East WMD-free zone requires addressing an ambitious objective in the world’s most intractable diplomatic environment. And the impediments to progress in US–Russian relations stifle hopes that further agreements and deeper cuts can be achieved; a deterioration of this relationship could mean serious consequences in the arms control environment. In 2011, no new breakthroughs occurred, the author writes, adding that 2012 could be a much more difficult year...


The nuclear order widens

On March 14, 2011, Abu Dhabi broke ground for its first nuclear reactor—one of four it is under contract to purchase from the Korean Electric Power Company and all of which it aims to have connected to the electricity grid by 2020. On May 8, 2011, the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr began operating and has since been connected to the electricity grid, becoming the first nuclear power plant to function in the Middle East. On December 2, 2011, Russia began construction of a nuclear power plant at Ninh Thuan, Vietnam, intended to include two nuclear reactors in excess of 1,000 megawatts each and expected to be completed by 2020. All of these developments took place after the terrible accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan—which might have caused a pause, a rethinking, or even a cancellation of these projects, but did not. Instead, civilian nuclear technology is spreading into two regions—the Middle East and Southeast Asia—where it was previously absent. This is the beginning of a long-term process involving the slow spread of nuclear assets to additional countries; dozens of potential nuclear newcomers have approached the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to express interest in pursuing nuclear power. This is a portentous development. Across time, it will widen the global distribution of nuclear technology, expand the serious nuclear players, reshape the international nuclear marketplace, add to worries about the safety and security of nuclear facilities, and change the politics of the NPT regime.
The implications in terms of nuclear proliferation are indirect...


The export control regime tightens

As the spearhead states among the nuclear newcomers have begun to visibly implement their nuclear programs, nuclear suppliers (perhaps not coincidentally) have moved to make the harmonized international export regime more restrictive. The suppliers have organized themselves into a cartel—the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—that now consists of 46 member states that are committed to follow agreed, though informal, rules for regulating international nuclear commerce. At its annual meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, in June, the NSG agreed, after years of deliberation, to strengthen the guidelines governing enrichment and reprocessing transfers.
According to published reports of...

Much more at: http://bos.sagepub.com/content/68/1/20.full#sec-1

Or you can download the entire paper with this link:

Proposed Indian Nuclear Power Plant in Zone Subject to Earthquakes

Proposed Indian Nuclear Power Plant in Zone Subject to Earthquakes
Written by John Daly
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00

Like many energy poor countries with rapidly rising economies, India’s government sees the development of a nuclear power industry as a potential godsend to meeting soaring demands for electricity.

But the country’s proposed nuclear program has run into increasing resistance, following the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that on 11 March 2011 devastated Japan’s Daichi nuclear power plant complex, taking all six Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) reactors offline. Public opinion in India is concerned because the country is subject to both of the natural phenomena, and authorities are declining to release relevant materials.

The issue is not insignificant, as nuclear power is now the fourth-largest source of electricity in India, exceeded only by thermal, hydro and wind power, with its 19 online nuclear power plants (NPPs) generating 4,560 megawatts of electricity.

In the most recent example of governmental stonewalling, New Delhi is declining to release to the public a geological study of the Jaitapur region in Maharashtra State on the Arabian Sea, where the government intends to construct a NPP.

India’s government has already seen significant public protests over...


Renewable Energy is the future of mankind, India’s minister Dr Farooq Abdullah

An exclusive interview with Dr Farooq Abdullah, India’s renewable energy minister ahead of the official opening of World Future Energy Summit 2012 in Abu Dhabi tomorrow, highlights the role of renewable energy in India’s economic growth.
Dr. Farooq Abdullah is the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy in the Government of India. He is best known for his energetic leadership of the pathbreaking and transformational initiative in renewable energy – The Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission. He is also known for a number of other initiatives in the renewable energy space in India-notably, renewable energy for energy access, the introduction of Generation Based Incentives and the move towards introduction of Renewable Energy Certificates.

How important is renewable energy and clean technologies to emerging markets, such as India?
The challenge facing the world today is to meet its increasingly large energy needs while minimizing the damage to the environment. This is why, while striving to bridge its energy deficit, the world must necessarily increase the share of clean, sustainable, new and renewable energy sources. Therefore, we in India look at Renewable energy and clean technologies as vehicles of sustainable development. We are now at the verge of a second transition as far as renewables are concerned. We have passed through the phase of research, development and small scale deployments and now have an installed base of over 22,000 MW renewable based capacity, which is around 11 per cent of India’s total power generation capacity. We have added over 11 GW capacity in the last 5 years and plan for another 30 GW in the next 5 years.

Is it realistic to expect renewable energy to meet the growing energy needs of these countries in the next 10-15 years?
I am confident that renewable energy is an idea whose time has come. There is an unmistakable shift from the use of conventional energy to renewable sources of energy. While 10 years may be an ambitious time frame to aim for a total transformation, the role of renewables will continue to increase, not only in India but in the entire world. Whether or not renewable energy completely replaces fossil fuel, we must all work together to develop renewable energy to its fullest potential.

What are the initiatives that India is ...


India secures new solar PV plant
By Annie Dang on 17 January 2012

India’s sunny climate and low cost of production is making it one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Leading manufacturer of next-generation thin-film photovoltaic modules, Abound Solar and Indian solar system integration company, Integration Systems India (Solarsis) announced yesterday that it will commission a 1MW solar photovoltaic plant in Kadiri, Andhra Pradesh, India.

The commissioning officially took place on January 14, 2012...


Indian villagers' lives transformed by new energy delivery system
A social enterprise is providing low-cost mobile-charging and light services through micro grids in Uttar Pradesh, enabling the poorest to cease relying on kerosene – and to stay connected

It's late December and an icy fog cloaks the northeastern state of Uttar Pradesh. Here, far from the cities, smoke rises in dense, choking spirals from meagre wood fires and scantily-clad children shiver against the cold. These are largely farming families, and their mud huts fortified by the occasional brick wall are for the most part devoid of light, heat or clean water.

But it is here in Uttar Pradesh, one of India's largest and poorest states, far away from the country's straining power grid, that US-born entrepreneurs Nikhil Jaisinghani and Brian Shaad have started to pioneer a wholly different energy system, designed to meet some of the most basic needs of the poorest.

Their company, Mera Gao Power (MGP), provides ultra-low cost lighting and mobile phone charging services to individual houses by building and operating solar-powered micro grids at a village level.

Each household that signs up to their service receives two LED lights and one mobile-charging point in their home at a cost of 25 rupees (£0.301) per week. The setup cost is an additional one-off payment of 40 rupees (£0.48). "This is the kind of price point that the majority of them can afford," Sandeep Pandey, MGP's operations manager, explained.

The benefits of these simple services for a village household are multiple....


NYT: Independent Panel to Start Inquiry into Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Panel Challenges Japan’s Account of Nuclear Disaster
Published: January 15, 2012

TOKYO — A powerful and independent panel of specialists appointed by Japan’s Parliament is challenging the government’s account of the accident at a Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and will start its own investigation into the disaster — including an inquiry into how much the March earthquake may have damaged the plant’s reactors even before the tsunami.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who leads the inquiry, vowed that it would have no sacred cows.
The bipartisan panel with powers of subpoena is part of Japan’s efforts to investigate the nuclear calamity, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, rendered wide swaths of land unusable for decades and spurred public criticism that the government has been more interested in protecting vested industry interests than in discovering how three reactors were allowed to melt down and release huge amounts of radiation.

Several investigations...


The unreliable nature of nuclear power


Power loss shuts down Kan. nuclear plant
By AP | January 14, 2012

BURLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — The operators of the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant say a loss of off-site power prompted an automatic shutdown at the northeast Kansas facility.

The shutdown happened Friday afternoon. Wolf Creek officials say the plant's two emergency diesel generators automatically started, supplying power to all safety-related equipment...


"Wolf Creek officials say the plant's two emergency diesel generators automatically started, supplying power to all safety-related equipment."

But who was supplying power to all the people who were depending on the nuclear plant?

And then there were five

All 3 nuclear reactors in Shikoku suspended

IKATA, Ehime -- Operations at all three nuclear reactors in Shikoku have been suspended as the last one was stopped for a regular inspection on Jan. 13.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. suspended operations at the No. 2 reactor of its Ikata Nuclear Power Plant on the night of Jan. 13. Its No. 1 and 3 reactors, which had been shut down for regular inspections, cannot be reactivated because of the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Shikoku Electric Power became the second utility in Japan with no nuclear reactors running, following Kyushu Electric Power Co.

Currently, only five of the 54 commercial nuclear reactors across the country are in operation.


‘Crunch time’ at troubled nuclear fuel plant

‘Crunch time’ at troubled nuclear fuel plant

...Disillusioned investors have wiped out 95 percent of the company’s market value since 2007. Standard & Poor’s has saddled it with a dismal CCC-plus credit rating. And USEC’s chief executive John Welch says that “clearly we’re coming to crunch time here.”

When USEC was created by the U.S. government in the 1990s, the idea was to privatize the job of uranium enrichment. USEC leased an old Energy Department plant and under a program known as Megatons to Megawatts, it has blended down highly enriched uranium taken from 17,698 Russian warheads under a U.S.-Russia treaty.

Two decades later, however, the Bethesda-based firm is still struggling to stand on its own two feet. Its deal for inexpensive supplies from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons runs out at the end of 2013. A contract for electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority expires in May and USEC’s outdated plant — which devours as much electricity as the city of Nashville — will be unable to compete with other companies.

USEC says it needs government help. It wants to build a new, more efficient facility that would house thousands of 43-foot-tall centrifuges. But the two-month budget measure Congress passed in December blocks a $150 million Energy Department grant that USEC needs to continue development. And USEC’s application for a $2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee has been stalled for nearly four years, despite lobbying by the entire congressional delegation from Ohio, where the company wants to build the plant.

Ohio is a battleground...


Progress Energy customers could be on hook as insurer hesitates on $2.5B payout

Progress Energy customers could be on hook as insurer hesitates on $2.5B payout

Progress Energy already plans to stick its customers with a $670 million bill for the botched upgrade to the Crystal River nuclear plant. Now those customers have reason to fear that Progress will try to stick them again.

Why? Progress' oft-repeated contention that insurance will pay the rest of the $2.5 billion repair bill looks increasingly shaky.

• The insurer, which goes by the acronym NEIL, already has stopped paying some earlier claims on the construction accident, which shut down the plant in 2009 during replacement of a steam generator.

• NEIL has created a high-ranking committee to investigate whether the accident was, as Progress contends, unforeseeable, unpredictable and unpreventable.

• Now NEIL...


U.K. Solar Capacity Surge Defies Huhne's Plan to Curb Subsidy

U.K. Solar Capacity Surge Defies Huhne's Plan to Curb Subsidy

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Britain's solar capacity shot up 10-fold last year, defying Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's effort to roll back subsidies for the industry and prevent the sort of booms experienced in Germany and Italy.

Solar panels with at least 761.9 megawatts in capacity were installed in 2011 compared with 76.8 megawatts the prior year, according to figures on the website of U.K.'s energy regulator Ofgem. About two-thirds of the capacity and 95 percent of the projects were installed on homes.

Huhne twice last year moved to rein in support granted in April 2010 in the form of feed-in tariffs, which guarantee premium rates for electricity from solar power. Companies including EON AG, Tesco Plc and Carillion Plc's Eaga rushed to tap the market, supported by fund managers such as Foresight Group LLP and Octopus Investments Ltd.

“It's been a very busy and successful year for the solar industry,” Howard Johns, chairman of the Solar Trade Association and managing director of installer Southern Solar Ltd., said by e-mail today. “But now most of the industry is at a standstill with the uncertainty caused by the government.”

The price of panels today ...


Decline in safety culture at Palisades nuclear power plant to be fixed, company tells regulators

Decline in safety culture at Palisades nuclear power plant to be fixed, company tells regulators

LISLE, ILL. — There was not much debate today over the cause of September’s week-long shutdown at Palisades nuclear power plant.

The blame, the plant’s site vice president said, runs from the lowest workers at the Covert Township plant all the way to him.

There was a lack of leadership effectiveness, a degradation in safety culture, and a failure to identify, investigate and correct problems in a timely manner, said Anthony Vitale, vice-president of operations of Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.

And how that manifested on the weekend of Sept. 25 could have gotten a worker killed.

“We lost the trust ...


Length of Indian Point reactor shutdown unclear

Length of Indian Point reactor shutdown unclear

BUCHANAN – Engineers have to wait until the Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor cools down today before assessing how long the plant will remain offline following a water pump failure in the containment dome.

Workers shut down the 1,028-megawatt reactor about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday after the overflow from the sport utility vehicle-sized pump reached unacceptable levels.

No radiation was released outside the dome, although the pump carries radioactive water heated to about 540 degrees Fahrenheit and pushes 90,000 gallons of water per minute through each of four feeder pipes.

“I don’t know if we would describe it as routine when a plant has to shut down to fix a reactor coolant pump,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “But certainly there are procedures that deal with this kind of situation, and they followed those procedures. Now it’s really just a matter of going in there, carrying out the repairs and then trying to put the plant back in service.”

Before this morning...


The nature of sudden prolonged shutdowns of nuclear plants requires that a lot of spinning reserve power be kept constantly available.
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