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Category Archives: non-proliferatie

Laureates call for cut to highly enriched uranium

physicsworld.com | Peter Gwynne | April 8, 2016

PW-2016-04-08-Gwynne-Nobel

A group of 35 Nobel laureates, including 16 physicists, has called on world leaders to reduce the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in naval nuclear propulsion and research reactors. In a letter addressed to national leaders at last week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, the laureates call for “serious technical studies” to transition naval reactors to using low-enriched uranium (LEU). They also call for a road map for converting or shutting down research reactors that use HEU, as well as the development of non-radioactive alternatives – such as cobalt-60 and caesium-137 – for use in medicine and research.

More than 90 research reactors have been converted to LEU or closed down in the past 40 years. The US has also been reducing its stocks of HEU, which is defined as uranium with 20% to 90% concentration of the uranium-235 isotope. According to the US government, the country’s stocks of HEU fell from 740.7 tonnes to 585.6 tonnes between 1996 and 2013. The latter amount includes around 500 tonnes for national security, such as the production of nuclear weapons and naval propulsion, 44.6 tonnes of spent nuclear reactor fuel, as well as 41.6 tonnes that could be reduced to LEU or disposed of as low-level waste.

Regardless of these steps, the laureates urge “serious technical studies” to investigate moving to LEU fuels for naval nuclear propulsion as well as “strongly” recommending governments devote more resources to addressing the remaining HEU-fuelled reactors over the next decade. Burton Richter, who shared the 1976 Nobel Prize for Physics and instigated the letter together with the president of the Federation of American Scientists, Charles Ferguson, told physicsworld.com that almost all research reactors should be convertible to LEU. “Some might not be,” he adds. “But the world can live without them.”

Richter regards the non-military uses of HEU as the more serious risk of falling into the wrong hands. “I’m less worried about the naval-reactor HEU than the civilian HEU because military reactors have a lot more security,” he told physicsworld.com. “The amounts are much higher on the military side, but so is the security.” Indeed, in their letter, the 35 laureates warn that the threats of nuclear and radiological terrorism “cross national boundaries” and will require collaboration between nations to prevent an incident from happening. “We urge [national leaders] to devote the necessary resources to make further substantial progress in the coming years to real risk reduction in preventing nuclear and radiological terrorism,” they add.

The laureates also praise the progress made by governments and companies in developing ways of treating cancer and blood disorders by using other techniques that do not rely on highly radioactive sources.

About the author

Peter Gwynne is Physics World‘s North America correspondent

De nieuwe Koude Oorlog

Henk van der Keur | 28.03.2016

Is er een nieuwe Koude Oorlog? Of je het nu wel of niet zo noemt is een semantische kwestie. De nieuwe Koude Oorlog is er, maar hij is anders dan de vorige. De retoriek van zowel de Amerikaanse als de Russische regering doet sterk denken aan de vorige Koude Oorlog op zijn hoogtepunt. Maar er zijn fundamentele verschillen.

Toen was de wereld verdeeld in de ideologische scheidslijn tussen het reëel bestaande socialisme en de niet minder utopische wereld van de vrije markteconomie. Nu zitten met de afnemende economische en politieke invloed van de Verenigde Staten op het wereldtoneel in een overgangsfase naar een nieuw tijdperk, waarin financiële, politieke en militaire macht zal worden herverdeeld. De Amerikaanse president Barack Obama laat zich in zijn buitenlandpolitiek leiden door de agenda van de neo-conservatieven, de dominante politieke stroming in de VS. Die agenda wordt vooral bepaald door nog meer oorlog. Met neoconservatieve propaganda en wapens zetten ze hun bondgenoten in Europa en Azië op tegen Rusland en China.

De Balie

Auke Bakker uit Amsterdam, een leraar aan het middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, was in juni 2015 de initiatiefnemer van een bijeenkomst in de Balie waarin de toenemende spanningen tussen de VS en Rusland werden geanalyseerd. De belangrijkste boodschap was dat de Europese Unie en de NAVO zich teveel laten leiden door de buitenlandpolitiek van de haviken binnen het Amerikaanse politieke establishment. Verontrustend is dat er nauwelijks tegengeluid valt te vernemen. De enorme risico’s van de Amerikaanse oorlogspolitiek dringen nauwelijks door in de Nederlandse samenleving, en ondertussen melden ingewijden aan zowel Amerikaanse als Russische kant dat de kans op een kernoorlog groter is dan ooit. In Amsterdam namen Auke Bakker, Willy Klinkenberg en ik het besluit verder te gaan werken aan nieuwe bijeenkomsten en andere activiteiten onder de noemer ‘Oost-West in Gesprek’. De weken voor het referendum over het associatieverdrag van de EU met Oekraïne, 6 april a.s., zijn bij uitstek de gelegenheid om een ander geluid te laten horen dan het aanhoudende wapengekletter in onze media. Alle ogen van de internationale politiek en buitenlandse media zijn op Nederland gericht.

Recent sloot ons groepje zich aan bij de landelijke organisatie ‘Oorlog is geen oplossing’. Op 20 maart zullen we een bijeenkomst organiseren met buitenlandse gasten. Eén van onze voorbeelden is de American Committee for East-West Accord. Binnen dat comité werken onder meer wetenschappers, voormalige ministers, politici en journalisten van een uiteenlopende politieke kleur samen om bij te dragen aan ontspanning in de betrekkingen tussen de Verenigde Staten en Rusland. Dat is wat de leden van dit comité bindt. En dat geldt ook voor ‘Oorlog is geen oplossing’.

Stephen Cohen

De nieuwe Koude Oorlog is volgens de Amerikaanse Ruslandkenner Stephen Cohen, lid van de American Committee for East-West Accord, om meerdere redenen veel gevaarlijker dat de Koude Oorlog van de 20ste eeuw. Ten eerste omdat het epicentrum zich niet in Berlijn bevindt, maar pal aan Rusland’s grenzen. Ten tweede doordat er geen helemaal geen gedragsregels zijn van de soort die door Moskou en Washington werden opgesteld na de Cubaanse raketcrisis. En ten derde omdat er anders dan bij de vorige Koude Oorlog in de VS nauwelijks hoorbare tegenstanders van de nieuwe Koude Oorlog bestaan. Bij de Democraten wellicht nog minder dan bij de Republikeinen. Hillary Clinton is de kandidaat van de oorlogsmachine.

Het Amerikaanse establishment in de politiek en media wijst Poetin aan als schuldige voor de nieuwe Koude Oorlog. Maar daarvoor bestaat geen enkel bewijs. Poetin wordt in de Westerse media afgeschilderd als een autocraat, maar is hij dat wel? De nieuwe Koude Oorlog begon niet toen Poetin in 2000 aan de macht kwam, of met de Amerikaans-Russische proxy-oorlog in Georgië in 2008, of met de uitbarsting van de Oekraïense crisis in november 2013. Nee, zo benadrukt Cohen terecht, het begon vanaf het moment dat Bill Clinton in 1993 aantrad als Amerikaanse president. Hij spreidde een houding ten toon van een triomferende overwinnaar. Clinton weigerde eenvoudigweg Rusland voor vol aan te zien, laat staan te behandelen als een potentiële strategische partner. Onder zijn leiding breidde de NAVO verder uit naar het oosten en daarbij sloot hij Rusland ook uit van veiligheidsmaatregelen in het Europa van na de Koude Oorlog. Clinton weigerde ook te onderhandelen over (anti)ballistische raketten (missile defence) en zelfs samenwerking daarover. Die ‘winner-takes-all’ mentaliteit, met inbegrip van een hele reeks gebroken beloften aan Russische leiders, is door alle opeenvolgende Amerikaanse regeringen voortgezet. Ook door president Obama.

Obama’s besluit om de begroting voor de VS/NAVO-troepen nabij Rusland’s grenzen te verviervoudigen en Rusland officieel te verklaren als de belangrijkste dreiging voor de VS maken een akkoord met Rusland er niet makkelijker op en dragen verder bij aan de militarisering van de nieuwe Koude Oorlog. Dit beleid kwam duidelijk uit de koker van zijn defensieminister Ashton Carter. Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken John Kerry heeft kenbaar gemaakt dit beleid te verwerpen. Hij lijkt het kleine Amerikaanse kamp te vertegenwoordigen dat uit is op een akkoord met Rusland. Hij komt uit een diplomatenfamilie en heeft veel gesprekken gevoerd met zijn Russische ambtgenoot Sergej Lavrov, de nestor van de buitenlandministers van grote staten.

Noodzaak tot ontspanning

Gaandeweg zijn er veel mogelijkheden om tot een detente met Moskou te komen verloren gegaan. Voornamelijk door besluitvormers in Washington en Brussel. Het is zaak dat de nieuwe kansen worden benut, om zo de nieuwe Koude Oorlog af te zwakken en misschien zelfs te beëindigen. Eén daarvan is het uitonderhandelen van de Minsk Akkoorden, die ontworpen zijn door kanselier Merkel en president François Hollande om de burgeroorlog in Oekraïne, tevens een Amerikaans-Russische proxy-oorlog, te beëindigen.

Zowel in Washington als in Moskou zijn we getuige van een strijd tussen politieke krachten die voor en tegen een overeenkomst zijn tussen de VS en Rusland. Het Amerikaanse kamp dat naar een politieke oplossing streeft is klein en zwak, niet verenigd, zonder leider en beroofd van een stem in de mainstream media. Cohen stelt dat de enige weg naar een duurzame vrede met Rusland kan komen van een nieuwe president voor een detente is met Rusland. Bernie Sanders lijkt daarvoor de aangewezen kandidaat.

Er staat veel op het spel. De oorlog in Syrië heeft inmiddels aan 400.000 mensen het leven gekost. Een groot deel van Syrië ligt in puin. Allemaal het gevolg van het Amerikaanse besluit om het Midden-Oosten binnen te vallen. Die oorlog houdt niet op zonder nauwe samenwerking met Rusland. Er moet dus een einde komen aan de verdere militaire escalatie tussen de VS en Rusland. De NAVO moet stoppen met de opbouw van hun militaire activiteiten in Oost-Europa. Rusland heeft geen ambitie om Europa binnen te vallen. Vanuit Russisch perspectief vormen de Amerikaanse maatregelen een directe bedreiging voor hun veiligheid. Deze geweldspiraal kan alleen maar stoppen als er weer ruimte komt voor ontspanning in de betrekkingen tussen de VS en Rusland, als er weer een beschaafde toon klinkt in de gesprekken tussen beide landen.

Het associatieverdrag van de EU met Oekraïne zet de verhoudingen van de EU met Rusland verder op scherp en voedt de tegenstellingen in Oekraïne. Ofschoon de werkelijkheid een stuk ingewikkelder is, kun je grofweg stellen dat er Oekraïners zijn die bij de Europese Unie willen horen, maar ook Oekraïners, vooral in het oosten van het land, die liever in de invloedsfeer van Rusland blijven. Een keuze voor de EU is een keuze die je Oekraïners niet kunt en mag opdringen ten koste van een burgeroorlog. Dat moeten ze zelf regionaal kunnen bepalen. Oekraïne en Rusland onderhouden al vele eeuwen heel nauwe betrekkingen. Dat historische gegeven kun je niet uitwissen. Oekraïne betekent niet voor niets grensland. Het is gebaat bij goede betrekkingen met de EU én met Rusland. Gegronde redenen dus om bij het referendum ‘NEE’ te stemmen. Volg onze activiteiten op de website van ‘Oorlog is geen oplossing’.

Dit artikel is verschenen in het Onderzoeksdossier VD AMOK in het VredesMagazine van maart 2016

Geschreven op persoonlijke titel

Video reports Amsterdam meeting “Ukraine between East and West”

Because of the Dutch referendum on the EU Association Treaty with Ukraine (6 April 2016), the Dutch coalition “War is No Solution” (Oorlog is geen Oplossing) held the meeting “Ukraine between East and West” in the Amsterdam debate centre De Balie (20 March 2016).

It has been cut into five fragments with respectively the contributions by prof.dr. Nikolaj Petro of de University of Rhode Island (VS):

prof.dr. Richard Sakwa of the University of Kent (GB):

Andrej Hunko, member of Die Linke in the German parliament, the Bundestag:

Tiny Kox, member of the Dutch Socialist Party in the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer):

Stan van Houcke, an Amsterdam based journalist:

And a discussion with the audience:

Marshall Islands suing India, Pak, UK for not stopping N-race. Here’s why

CATCH News | Aleesha Matharu | 8 March 2016

Marshall Islands, a US protectorate until 1986, is trying to press India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom to curb their nuclear programmes.

And it has a very good reason for making this move. In the early days of the Cold War, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs over the Marshall Islands as part of its atomic weapons test programme.

Now, over a half-century later, the small Pacific nation will at last have its day in court.

The island nation has filed nine lawsuits – Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the US – alleging that despite their suffering, the world’s nuclear powers have failed to comply with the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Britain has signed the NPT, but not India and Pakistan. Together, the three countries are expected to argue that the Marshall Island’s claims are beyond the Hague court’s jurisdiction and should not proceed any further.

Yet activists have said just getting the case to the United Nations was a victory in itself.

While the US has refused to participate, preliminary hearings are underway for the first time at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in what many activists see as a step towards highlighting the issue of nuclear disarmament.

“It’s a shame that the other six nuclear armed states have decided that for them there was no need to respond,” said Phon van den Biesen, a lawyer for the Marshall Islands.

Will this accomplish anything?

The Marshall Islands is pursuing global disarmament as a result of its “particular awareness of the dire consequences of nuclear weapons,” according to court documents.

While it seems unlikely that the lawsuits will result in complete disarmament by world powers, but the hearings show that global tribunals can give a voice – however slight – to small nations.

Also, the International Court of Justice hasn’t issued an opinion on nuclear weapons since 1996. As Dapo Akande, professor of international law at Oxford University, told Reuters: “The success will be in putting the issue back on the agenda. … This is as much as the Marshall Islands can hope for.”

What damage was done by the tests by the US?

Several of its atolls were vaporised entirely. Many people were killed and over the ensuing year, people suffered birth defects never seen before and cancer as a result of contamination.

Tony deBrum, a Marshall Islands representative, said he watched one of the US nuclear tests in his home country as a nine-year-old boy while fishing with his grandfather.

“The entire sky turned blood red,” he told judges.

Bikini Atoll, which hosted 23 nuclear tests, remains uninhabitable. While the descendants of the residents relocated prior to the nuclear testing have long wanted to return to the atoll, residual radiation has forced them to remain in exile.

A 2012 UN report estimates that the atoll suffers from “near-irreversible environmental contamination.”

On the island of Runit, in nearby Enewetak Atoll, the US military constructed a massive concrete dome to house tons of radioactive waste.

Never meant as a permanent fix, the dome now leaks radioactive materials into the surrounding environment.

In 2014, the Two-Way reported on the lasting impact of those tests: “Although islanders were relocated from Bikini and Eniwetok atolls – ground zero for the majority of the tests – three other Marshall atolls underwent emergency evacuations in 1954 after they were unexpectedly exposed to radioactive fallout. The Marshallese say they’ve suffered serious health issues ever since.”

So why isn’t Marshall Islands dragging the US to court?

It tried.

As the Two-Way reported when the case was filed in 2014, the island chain attempted to file suit against all nine countries believed to possess a nuclear arsenal: “In court documents, the Marshall Islands argues that the 1958 NPT, which did not come into force until 1970, amounts to a compact between nuclear haves and have-nots. Non-weapons states essentially agreed not to try to acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for weapons states moving toward disarmament, the Marshalls says.”

Why is India complying?

The ICJ has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan because they already recognised the ICJ’s authority.

Despite not having signed the NPT, India and Pakistan had an obligation under “customary international law” to negotiate and eventually reduce their nuclear arsenals.

“Contrary to the obligation to pursue in good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament… India’s conduct includes the quantitative build-up and improvement of its nuclear arsenal,” deBrum said.

U.S. National Academies report on reducing the use of HEU in research reactors

IPFM BLog | January 28, 2016

A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report Reducing the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium in Civilian Research Reactors. The congressionally mandated report urges the U.S. government to take a number of steps to reduce the use of HEU in research reactors.

The report calls for development of a long-term national strategy that would ensure that the future need for neutrons in civilian applications can be met with sources that do not use HEU. It recommends that the United States continue to develop very high-density LEU fuels that could be used in U.S. high-performance research reactors and closely monitor LEU fuel development programs in other countries to evaluate their potential use in U.S. reactors.

The report recommends pursuing an interim solution to reducing the use of HEU. It would involve the following steps:

  1. Conversion of U.S. high-performance research reactors to dispersion silicide fuel enriched to the lowest practical level;
  2. Downblending of 20 MT of HEU designated for civilian research reactors to the lowest practical enrichment level;
  3. Continuing the effort toward the long-term goal of eliminating HEU usage in civilian applications.

The NAS report also supports expanding international cooperation on HEU minimization and makes some specific recommendations regarding the management of the HEU minimization program in the United States.

Jeremy Corbyn ‘to address 50,000 in biggest anti-nuclear demonstration for a generation’

The Telegraph | Ben Riley-Smith | 26 January 2016

Labour leader to join march through central London on February 27 as anti-Trident campaign gears up ahead of expected vote in March

trident_2807910b
Labour is locked in an internal debate about its stance on renewing Trident Photo: MoD Crown Copyright

Jeremy Corbyn will address an estimated 50,000 people in Trafalgar Square in the biggest anti-nuclear march for a generation as campaigners begin a “mass lobby” of MPs over Trident.

With a parliamentary vote expected as early as March, MPs were approached in their constituencies over the weekend by Trident critics in a “coordinated” drive to convince them to scrap the nuclear deterrent.

A mass email campaign is expected in the coming weeks to increase pressure on those MPs – especially in the Labour Party – who are undecided over renewal.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leaderJeremy Corbyn, Labour leader  Photo: Nick Edwards/The Telegraph

Campaigners want to deliver a message to Parliament that spending more than £100 billion on Trident renewal during a period of austerity is a “ridiculous diversion of funds”.

However Trident backers fear a repeat of the pressure that Labour MPs faced before the Syrian air strikes vote, which triggered complaints of bullying and intimidation.

The Labour leader will put himself at the front of the campaign alongside Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, by attending a march through central London on February 27, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s (CND) website.

Two campaign sources told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn has confirmed he would be attending the demonstration.

TridentTrident  Photo: PA

A message on CND’s website reads: “Join us to say No to government plans to buy a new system at a cost of over £100 billion. Parliament will be voting on this in 2016. So this is urgent – we can’t delay.”

Around 10,000 people have already signed up and some backers hope more than 50,000 people will attend – though others are reluctant to predict turnout.

A campaign source said: “We are hoping to make it the biggest demonstration against nuclear weapons since the 1980s. We are really going all out to make this as big as possible.”

Both Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, and Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru’s leader, are expected to attend.

Pro-Trident renewal: Tom Watson (clockwise from tpo left), Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham, Vernon Coaker, Gloria De Piero, Lord Falconer of ThorotonPro-Trident renewal: Tom Watson (clockwise from tpo left), Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham, Vernon Coaker, Gloria De Piero, Lord Falconer of Thoroton

A mass leafleting campaign is also being planned, with CND urging opponents of Trident to distribute campaign literature at train stations, churches and community centres.

A “coordinated” move to lobby MPs at constituency events was also held over the weekend with hundreds of politicians understood to have been targeted.

With the SNP opposing Trident and the vast majority of Tories expected to back renewal, Labour MPs are seen as the key undecided voters when Parliament is asked to make a decision.

The Telegraph revealed earlier this week that less than a quarter of Mr Corbyn’s shadow campaign back his opposition of Trident renewal – though the Labour leader’s allies believe MPs are more evenly divided.

Mr Corbyn’s office has been approached for a comment.

Plutonium’s global problems are piling up

Climate News Network | Paul Brown | January 22, 2016

CROP-barrow-ships-800x400

he nuclear fuel carriers Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret in port at Barrow-in-Furness, England, before setting sail for Japan. Image: CORE

Increasing worldwide stockpiles of surplus plutonium are becoming a political embarrassment, a worrying security risk, and a hidden extra cost to the nuclear industry.

LONDON, 22 January, 2016 − Two armed ships set off from the northwest of England this week to sail round the world to Japan on a secretive and controversial mission to collect a consignment of plutonium and transport it to the US.

The cargo of plutonium, once the most sought-after and valuable substance in the world, is one of a number of ever-growing stockpiles that are becoming an increasing financial and security embarrassment to the countries that own them.

So far, there is no commercially viable use for this toxic metal, and there is increasing fear that plutonium could fall into the hands of terrorists, or that governments could be tempted to use it to join the nuclear arms race.

All the plans to use plutonium for peaceful purposes in fast breeder and commercial reactors have so far failed to keep pace with the amounts of this highly-dangerous radioactive metal being produced by the countries that run nuclear power stations.

The small amounts of plutonium that have been used in conventional and fast breeder reactors have produced very little electricity − at startlingly high costs.

Out of harm’s way

Japan, with its 47-ton stockpile, is among the countries that once hoped to turn their plutonium into a power source, but various attempts have failed. The government, which has a firm policy of using it only for peaceful purposes, has nonetheless come under pressure to keep it out of harm’s way. Hence, the current plan to ship it to the US.

Altogether, 15 countries across the world have stockpiles. They include North Korea, which hopes to turn it into nuclear weapons.

The UK has the largest pile, with 140 tons held at Sellafield in north-west England, where plutonium has been produced at the site’s nuclear power plant since the 1950s. The government has yet to come up with a policy on what to do with it – and, meanwhile, the costs of keeping it under armed guard continue to rise.

Like most countries, the UK cannot decide whether it has an asset or a liability. The plutonium does not appear on any balance sheet, and the huge costs of storing it safely − to avoid it going critical and causing a meltdown − and guarding it against terrorists are not shown as a cost of nuclear power.

This enables the industry to claim that nuclear is an attractive and clean energy-producing option to help combat climate change.

The two ships that set off from the English port of Barrow-in-Furness this week are the Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, nuclear fuel carriers fitted with naval cannon on deck. They are operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd, which ultimately is owned by the British government.

“We see this as wholly unnecessary and
a significant security threat in today’s
volatile and unpredictable world”

The presence on both ships of a heavily-armed security squad − provided by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s Strategic Escort Group − and the earlier loading of stores and the craning on board of live ammunition point to a long, security-conscious voyage ahead.

The shipment of plutonium from Japan to the US falls under the US-led Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), or Material Management & Minimisation (M3) programme, whereby weapons-useable material such as plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU) is removed from facilities worldwide for safekeeping in the US.

The cargo to be loaded onto the two UK ships in Japan consists of some 331kg of plutonium from Japan’s Tokai Research Establishment.

This plutonium – a substantial fraction of which was supplied to Japan by the UK decades ago for “experimental purposes” in Tokai’s Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) facility − is described by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as “posing a potential threat to national security, being susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device, and presenting a high risk of theft or diversion”. Or, as another US expert put it, “sufficient to make up to 40 nuclear bombs”.

Under the US-led programme, the plutonium will be transported from Japan to the US port of Charleston and onwards to the Savannah River site in South Carolina.

Tom Clements, director of the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch, has condemned this import of plutonium as a material that will simply be stranded at the site, with no clear disposition path out of South Carolina. He sees it as further evidence that Savannah River is being used as a dumping ground for an extensive range of international nuclear waste.

Prime terrorist material

The British group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) has for decades tracked the transport of nuclear materials round the world.

Their spokesman, Martin Forwood, said: “The practice of shipping this plutonium to the US as a safeguard is completely undermined by deliberately exposing this prime terrorist material to a lengthy sea transport, during which it will face everyday maritime risks and targeting by those with hostile intentions.

“We see this as wholly unnecessary and a significant security threat in today’s volatile and unpredictable world.”

The best option, CORE believes, would have been to leave it where it was, under guard.

From DOE documents, this shipment will be the first of a number of planned shipments for what is referred to as “Gap Material Plutonium” – weapons-useable materials that are not covered under other US or Russian programmes.

In total, the DOE plans to import up to 900kg of “at risk” plutonium − currently held in seven countries − via 12 shipments over seven years. Other materials include stocks of HEU – the most highly enriched plutonium,(to 93%), also being supplied to Japan by the UK.

The voyage from Barrow to Japan takes about six weeks, and a further seven weeks from Japan to Savannah River − use of the Panama Canal having been ruled out by the DOE in its documents on the shipment. Previously, the countries near the canal have objected to nuclear transport in their territorial waters. – Climate News Network