Posted: 12th May 2022
The Guardian has a long read on the fading memory of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima nuclear bombings and the weakening of the nuclear taboo in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In addition to Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats it says: “Nuclear norms are fraying elsewhere, too. Nine countries collectively hold some 10,000 warheads, and six of those countries are increasing their inventories. Current and recent leaders such as Kim Jong-un, Narendra Modi and Donald Trump have, like Putin, spoken brazenly of firing their weapons. After North Korea promised ‘thousands-fold’ revenge in 2017 for sanctions on its accelerating nuclear weapons programme, Trump threatened a pre-emptive strike, pledging to unleash ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’. ‘This is analogous to the Cuban missile crisis,’ one of Trump’s former aides, Sebastian Gorka, insisted. Leaders have talked tough before. But now their talk seems less tethered to reality. This is the first decade when not a single head of a nuclear state can remember Hiroshima.”
Boris Jonson has given assurances that Britain will defend Sweden and Finland if they are ever attacked – with the two countries expected to make applications for NATO membership next week. Johnson was speaking during a whistle-stop tour of the Nordic nations on Wednesday where he signed separate security agreements with Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, and Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö. Historically neutral, leaders in Helsinki and Stockholm have been discussing NATO membership with renewed vigour since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – leading Moscow to suggest more nuclear weapons could be deployed to the Baltic.
UK Nuclear Energy
The UK’s energy minister, Gregg Hands, has called on the SNP to ditch its “ideological opposition” to nuclear power – after Holyrood said it plans to use planning laws to frustrate attempts to build new nuclear plants in Scotland. Speaking to the Scottish Parliament’s net zero committee, Hands said: “It would be really helpful if the Scottish government were to drop its ideological opposition to nuclear because nuclear has got a fantastic track record in Scotland. It’s a pity to see Scotland not participate, thanks to the Scottish government, in our nuclear renaissance.”
William Atkins has a good read on Sizewell C in Granta magazine, looking at the Suffolk landscape and the campaigns – historic and present – against nuclear power in the area.
Ornithologists have discovered a nest of marsh harriers on the land where French energy firm EDF hopes to build the Sizewell C nuclear power station. The nest was found within the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and two further nests at Aldhurst Farm. It’s an offence to remove the nest of marsh harriers as they are protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has given its backing to a protest against a new power plant at Sizewell this Sunday, organised by local campaign groups Stop Sizewell C and Together Against Sizewell C. “Boris Johnson and Kwasi Kwarteng may have said they want Sizewell C, but this does not mean that the people of Suffolk have to have it. Even if ministers do give the go-ahead the outcome is still most uncertain, and this is going to be a long and a hard fight. If the people of Suffolk and local anti-nuclear campaigners can continue to stand firm in their resolve to oppose Sizewell C there is every chance it will fail,” the group said in a statement.
Activists from Norwegian environmentalist group Neptune Network, gathered at Sellafield to protest the reception of more radioactive waste. “Since 2001, Neptune Network has carried out a number of actions against the facility. The plant has a lack of maintenance, little transparency, and has had several accidents and near misses. An accident with radioactive release into the air could have serious consequences for Norway. The safety situation at Sellafield is critical and it is therefore necessary to stop new intake immediately,” the group said in a statement.
EDF said power output from its French reactors fell by 20.2 percent in April – citing “reduced availability of the nuclear fleet that was mainly due to the discovery of stress corrosion at some sites.”
Iran nuclear deal
Enrique Mora, the EU’s envoy to the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, metwith Iran’s negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani in Tehran on Wednesday. The visit was part of last-minute efforts to break an impasse in the talks – which have dragged on for two months since it was hoped a new agreement could be reached. Mora’s visit coincided with an announcement from Iran’s Intelligence Ministry that two European nationals had been detained by the country’s security forces – alleging that they sought to “take advantage” of labour protests occurring in parts of the country and plan “chaos, social disorder, and instability.”
Reuters looks at the challenges facing South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol amid North Korea’s ramping up of ballistic missile launches and an expected nuclear test. Yoon has tried to balance having a more hard-line stance towards Pyongyang than his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, while also offering economic incentives if the North abandons its nuclear programme. But analysts note that this approach is unlikely to be met with positive results. “It was a somewhat conciliatory message, but North Korea would never accept this line of reasoning that the South would help develop its own economy if it denuclearises,” said Park Won-gon, a North Korea expert based in Seoul. “To them, that formula means to deny their regime.”
Press and Communications Officer
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament