In the news (September 25 – September 30 2013)

Power to the people

Online petitions have their appeal; empowerment at the click of a button. But despite its good intentions the Move on Fukushima petition demonstrates a certain naiveté when it calls on the UN (albeit the IAEA) to take on an oversight role in the Fukushima clean up.

Question: Has the IAEA demonstrated any willingness roll up its sleeves and plunge into the Fukushima mess in the two and a half since the accident, and if it can’t provide oversight to manage the task who can?  Nuclear industry accidents know no borders and the appropriate response should be an international effort – so what would be the spark plug to get such an effort going?

Are Journalists in Danger of Prosecution for Espionage?                                        

Word on the hill at the time of the North Korean leak for which Fox reporter James Rosen has been hounded is that it had really, really, really, grave consequences. Rosen has been labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a leak investigation conducted by the Justice Department. Gabriel Schoenfeld writes that the institutional press in this instance is demanding a privilege that no functioning democracy can bestow. Marty Lederman sniffs at Schoenfeld’s hang ‘em high proposition: “a course of action Schoenfeld has been urging for years,” he writes.

Question: The Obama administration does appear to have declared open season on journalists in the name of protecting national security, and the espionage threat  casts a pall over Grub Street;  but is the shadow of the gallows the result of too fevered an imagination?

Estimate for uranium facility goes from $600 million to $11.6 billion

The cost of a proposed uranium processing facility for nuclear weapons in Oakridge, Tennessee, has soared as high as $11.6 billion — 19 times the original estimate — even as critics accuse the Energy Department of overstating the need for spare bomb parts.

Question: Could this herald the end of the US nuclear weapons program?  While the Department of Defence plans new nuclear weapons systems, the Department of Energy has become completely dysfunctional and is unable to coherently plan for the modernisation of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.  The South the River mixed oxide fuel (MOX) plant and the Los Alamos plutonium plant all show incredible cost overruns and demonstrate incompetence and the inability to move forward realistically.  If these facilities are not built, will the capability of the U.S. to build nuclear weapons in a modern environmentally responsible complex simply disappear?

Serendipity, Syria and Putin

The Bush administration in its Middle East policy blunders seemed wedded to the Latin term casus belli, meaning justification for war. The Obama administration’s recent actions in the region may be better summed up by casus, meaning chance, accident. See David Bromwich’s version of how more Middle East blunders may have been avoided by…..more blunders. The Syria issue is about chemical weapons but nuclear is always on the menu in the Middle East.

Question: What else could U.S. foreign policy goals accomplish by accident in Syria, resolution of outstanding questions about the alleged reactor bombed by Israel at in 2007 at Dair Alzour?

Nuclear extravagance in Washington

And from Chennai , Madras, where The Hindu has its corporate office, some cold water gets poured on a possible deal between the Indian Government and the struggling U.S. nuclear power industry. And an interesting perspective on the possible deal from Papri Sri Raman.

Question: Why are the benefits to the U.S. that were touted  for signing the so-called 123 deal with India in 2005 still proving to be elusive?

Nuclear Now

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists remains an important source of opinion and discussion about the state of nuclear – 17,000 warheads remain in their arsenals – and the steps to consider towards achieving global stability. Two current pieces address the past, present and future of nuclear weapons. The first  addresses the inevitability of nuclear disarmament and the second  challenges the notion that technology and careful management will keep us safe.

Question: The Bulletin addresses key issues that will only be resolved by a response from the public; yet it’s hardly the media of choice for most readers and is it realistic to consider that journalists can take the vital issues it addresses and craft them into clear and compelling stories for wider audiences?

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