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Posts tagged ‘Nuclear’

Swiss vote to withdraw country from use of nuclear power

May 21, 2017

BERLIN (AP) — Swiss voters are supporting a referendum to withdraw the country from nuclear power in favor of renewable energy. A projection from Sunday’s referendum shows a majority of cantons (states) voted for the plan. Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, initiatives need a majority of both cantons and votes to pass.

The projection for SRF public television showed 58 percent of voters in favor and 42 percent against the proposal. The Swiss government wants to ban the construction of new nuclear power plants and decommission the country’s five existing ones at the end of their technically safe operating lives.

The plan would also boost renewable energies such as water and wind and make cars and electronic devices more energy efficient. Opponents warned the initiative would significantly increase electricity bills.

Belarus march against nuclear power on Chernobyl anniversary

April 26, 2017

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — About 400 people have marched in Belarus’ capital to mark the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and protest the construction of a nuclear plant in the country.

Wednesday was the 31st anniversary of the explosion and fire at the nuclear plant in neighboring Ukraine. The disaster spewed fallout-contaminated smoke over a wide swath of northern Europe. About a quarter of Belarus’ territory was contaminated and a 2,200-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) sector of Belarus was declared unfit for human habitation.

The demonstrators said authorities are increasingly allowing crops to be grown on contaminated land. They also urged authorities to stop the construction of the nuclear plant, which will open in 2019.

Unlike recent opposition rallies that saw hundreds arrested, Wednesday’s march in Minsk was sanctioned by authorities.

Algerians take steps to prosecute France for nuclear tests

February 15, 2017

The top human rights organisation in Algeria announced yesterday that it has contacted the UN Human Rights Council regarding France’s refusal to admit to the crimes of its nuclear test program. The French government carried out 17 nuclear tests in the Algerian desert, causing the death of 42,000 individuals; thousands more were left chronically ill due to being exposed to nuclear radiation.

The details were revealed in a statement by the National Secretary of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Houari Kaddour, who is tasked with this issue, during an interview with Anadolu news agency. Kaddour stressed that his organisation “is trying to use all legal means to put the French authorities on trial and prosecute them in all international legal bodies, as well as in the EU, for their crimes.”

Algeria marked the 57th anniversary of the French nuclear tests two days ago. They were carried out between 1960 and 1966; Algeria gained independence from France in 1962. The French authorities still refuse to admit to these crimes and instead have announced that they will pay financial compensation to the victims.

According to Kaddour, his organisation contacted the UN Human Rights council and requested it to look into the crimes. “We also urged the Algerians in Europe to help us find lawyers specializing in international law to file a lawsuit against France in the next three months, before the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in the EU. We also plan to prosecute France in the local courts in Switzerland which specialize in international crimes.”

Kaddour said that his organisation is coordinating with a number of human rights and international bodies in this regard, including all international human rights organisations, international organisations against nuclear testing, and French human rights groups. He noted that the Algerians had submitted over 730,000 compensation cases that were rejected by the compensation committee due to the impossible conditions imposed on the victims. Civilian victims, he added, are not recognized.

The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights accused the Algerian authorities of “not putting enough pressure on France to admit to these crimes.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Putin urges Russian nuclear weapons boost

By Maria Antonova

Moscow (AFP)

Dec 22, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for the country to reinforce its military nuclear potential and praised the army’s performance in its Syria campaign.

In a speech that recapped military activities in 2016, Putin said the army’s preparedness has “considerably increased” and called for continued improvement that would ensure it can “neutralize any military threat”.

“We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems,” the Kremlin strongman said.

“We must carefully monitor any changes in the balance of power and in the political-military situation in the world, especially along Russian borders, and quickly adapt plans for neutralizing threats to our country.”

He said Russia’s military had successfully demonstrated its capabilities in Syria, showcased its technology to potential arms buyers and helped the Syrian army make considerable advances.

“The Syrian army received considerable support, thanks to which it carried out several successful operations against militants,” he said.

“The effective use of Russian weapons in Syria opens new possibilities for military-technical cooperation.

“We must take maximum advantage of this. We know there is interest in modern Russian weapons from foreign partners.”

Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria in September 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad, with its special forces also operating on the ground in the country.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the military had used “162 types of modern armaments during the military campaign in Syria,” including its Sukhoi warplanes and MiG and Kamov helicopters.

“They have shown to be highly effective,” he said.

– ‘35,000 fighters’ –

Shoigu produced figures for the entire campaign in Syria but did not mention any estimate of civilian casualties.

Russian warplanes have “liquidated 725 training camps, 405 weapon factories and workshops, 1,500 pieces of terrorist equipment, and 35,000 fighters, including 204 field commanders,” he said.

The Russian airforce has conducted a total of 18,800 sorties and carried out 71,000 strikes since the start of its campaign, Shoigu said.

“In general, the operation has allowed (us) to solve several geopolitical problems,” he said.

“We have considerably damaged international terrorist organisations in Syria, stopped their expansion… (and) prevented the breakup of Syria.”

Russia is prioritizing its Asian partners including India and China for arms sales, he added.

Shoigu said NATO activities along Russia’s western borders have grown eight-fold over the past decade, forcing Moscow to send more warplanes to prevent breaches of Russian airspace.

Next year, four additional S-400 anti-missile defense systems will be delivered to the army, and Russia will pay particular attention to its Western flank and the Arctic, he said.

“First and foremost, we will continue to increase military capabilities… take measures to reinforce troops in the western, southwestern and Arctic strategic sectors,” Shoigu said.

Source: Space War.


Former nuclear bunker becomes museum of Albanian persecution

November 19, 2016

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — A former top-secret nuclear bunker reopened Saturday as a museum in Albania’s capital to show visitors how Communist-era police persecuted the regime’s opponents. The 1,000-square-meter (1,077-square-foot) bunker with reinforced concrete walls up to 2.4 meters (8-feet) thick was built between 1981 and 1986 to shelter elite police and interior ministry staff in the event of a nuclear attack.

The museum that opened in Tirana now holds photographs and equipment that illustrate the political persecution of some 100,000 Albanians from 1945 until 1991. The “Pillar” museum, as the nuclear bunker was codenamed, is one of several former hideouts the Albanian government has repurposed for the public since it came to power three years ago.

Both an island fortress and another underground bunker designed for Albania’s army command are now open to tourists, as is a leaf-covered villa that once housed the former communist country’s secret police, known as Sigurimi.

More may come from the scores of military installations erected during the paranoid, isolationist regime of the late dictator Enver Hoxha, who ruled with an iron fist after the end of World War II until December 1990.

Hoxha’s regime, with an imaginary fear of invasion by the “imperialist United States and social-imperialist Soviet Union,” built concrete bunkers of all sizes around the country. At one time there were rumored to be as many as 700,000, but the government says 175,000 were built.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said the new museum reflects his Cabinet’s “will to pay back a debt to the memory of the former political persecuted, forgotten in the last 25 years.” Located downtown, it was designed to attract visitors from Albania and beyond “to learn about the ways that the former communist police persecuted their opponents,” curator Carlo Bollino said.

“This is the first memorial for the victims of the communist terror,” Bollino said. Twenty rooms in the new museum show Albania’s police history from 1912 until 1991, as well as the names of 6,027 people executed during the communist regime, the 34,000 imprisoned and the more than 50,000 sent to isolated internment camps.

The bunker was never used, “though it has always been operational,” according to Mehdi Sulo, 70, a museum guide. It also has been a focus of political demonstrations. In an anti-government rally a year ago, supporters of the main opposition Democratic Party destroyed part of a replica bunker built as the museum’s entrance. They complained that Rama’s governing Socialist Party was trying to glorify the country’s dark past.

The holes the demonstrators made in the entrance purposely were not repaired. “Bunkers once aimed at putting the enemy away, now they serve to attract people to remember the difficult past,” Rama said.

Bulgaria to pay Russia 600 mn euros for dropped nuclear plant

Sofia (AFP)

Oct 26, 2016

Bulgaria said Wednesday it had agreed to pay Russia over 600 million euros ($655 million) in compensation after cancelling plans to build a nuclear plant on the Danube.

Bulgaria’s national electricity company, NEK, will make “full payment” to the Russian nuclear giant Atomstroyexport by December 25, the energy ministry said in a statement.

The Geneva-based International Court of Arbitration ruled in June that NEK should pay Atomstroyexport 601 million euros plus interest for equipment ordered for a planned 2,000-megawatt twin-reactor plant at Belene on the Danube.

Bulgaria and Russia also agreed on Wednesday that Atomstroyexport will waive part of the interest of 130,000 euros per day if NEK repays it ahead of the December 25 deadline, the ministry added.

The Belene scheme was scrapped in 2012, with Bulgaria blaming ever-rising costs.

However, the government is mulling whether to revive it using a private investor, and is in early talks with Atomstroyexport about a possible procurement deal that would reduce the compensation payout.

After joining the EU in 2007, the country — a former top electricity exporter on the Balkans — was left with only two operational 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at its sole nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, also on the Danube.

On Tuesday, the energy ministry announced that a consortium of the Russian Rosenergoatom and French EDF will study options for extending the operational life of one of the Kozloduy reactors by as much as 30 years — until 2047. The plant’s other reactor has a lifetime that is scheduled to expire in 2021.

Source: Nuclear Power Daily.


China, Britain, France sign pact for new UK nuclear plant

September 29, 2016

LONDON (AP) — Officials from China, Britain and France have attended a signing ceremony to mark the final approval for the construction of the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station in southwest England.

The 18 billion-pound ($23 billion) project will be financed by Chinese nuclear power provider CGN and French energy group EDF. It will be Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Chinese Energy Minister Nur Bekri attended Thursday’s ceremony.

British Business Secretary Greg Clark said the signing marked a crucial moment in Britain’s effort to upgrade its energy supplies. New Prime Minister Theresa May had delayed approval of the project while reviewing its security implications and other matters. The government says future foreign investment in infrastructure projects will face tighter reviews.

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