Confusion at Indian Point Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

THOMAS C. ZAMBITO | ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS | 1 hour ago

An in-depth look at the end of the nuclear power industry as we know it, and what lies ahead for the communities where plants are powering down.

MICHAEL V. PETTIGANO, PAUL WOOD JR AND JOHN MEORE, ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS

The village of Buchanan, the town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to heed their concerns before deciding whether to approve Indian Point’s sale to Holtec International of Camden, N.J.

Until recently, each had remained neutral, expressing hope that Holtec’s interest would lead to a swift demolition and cleanup and allow portions of the plant’s 240 acres along the Hudson River to be opened to development sooner rather than later.

But Buchanan, Cortlandt and the school district each face a bleak economic future, with total losses pegged at $28 million, money that Entergy paid out in property taxes annually.

Buchanan is weighing cuts to services to make up for annual losses of $3.5 million, half its budget, while the school district is considering measures to close a $23 million shortfall.

In documents sent to the NRC in recent weeks, lawyers for the communities question whether Holtec will siphon off the $2.3 billion that’s been accumulating in trust funds for the day when the plants’ reactors powered down before finishing the job.

The prospect of a funding shortfall poses radiological, environmental, and financial risks to Petitioners,” lawyers Daniel Riesel and Dane Warren write. “If, for example, the DTF (decommissioning trust fund) is insufficient to cover all of Holtec’s costs, there is no guarantee that Holtec will not simply declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving Petitioners and their residents to pick up the tab. Moreover, the brunt of any environmental harm caused by this shortfall will be felt most acutely by Petitioners and their citizens.”

Public meeting on Indian Point decommissioning

Similar concerns have been voiced by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Hudson River environmental groups.

Riverkeeper and Clearwater have in recent weeks been urging supporters to oppose Holtec’s bid, leading to hundreds of form letters to the NRC from residents of Rockland and Westchester counties.

The NRC closed the public comment period on March 25 and will rule on Entergy’s license transfer bid later this year.

Entergy will shut down Unit 2 – one of two working reactors at Indian Point – at the end of the month. Unit 3 powers down next year.

Aerial shot of Indian Point power plant on the shores of the Hudson River in Buchanan.

Aerial shot of Indian Point power plant on the shores of the Hudson River in Buchanan.

FILE PHOTO BY FRANK BECERRA JR./THE JOURNAL NEWS

Holtec’s lawyers have called concerns about its financial health “meritless.”

“As a general matter, the State’s arguments opine about various hypothetical scenarios and assert, without factual or quantitative support—and in some cases, with substantial facts to the contrary—that such speculative scenarios might result in costs above those estimated…,” they wrote in response to New York’s challenge.

Holtec spokesman Joseph Delmar noted the NRC has already vetted the company’s financial assurances during its review of the license transfers of nuclear power plants in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has previously determined that Holtec has the financial and technical qualifications to perform decommissioning safely, and has already approved license transactions at both Oyster Creek and Pilgrim,” Delmar said.

Central to the communities’ concerns is Holtec’s request for an NRC exemption that would allow the company to use some $632 million in trust fund money to manage the dozens of cement-and-steel canisters of spent fuel that will be left behind once Indian Point shuts down.

Nuclear fuel dry cask storage facility at Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan on Monday, May 20, 2019.

Holtec estimates it will cost roughly $12.5 million per year to manage the fuel, money that other nuclear power plants have recouped by suing the federal Department of Energy (DOE) for failing to fulfill a promise to create an underground repository for the nation’s nuclear waste.

The lawyers question whether Holtec will use any money they recover from the federal government to offset what they take out of the trust fund for spent fuel management.

The NRC is considering Holtec’s bid to build a temporary underground repository in the New Mexico desert to store nuclear waste from power plants across the U.S. But the proposal faces a number of political and environmental hurdles.

“The fundamental problem is that Holtec has refused to offer any alternative calculation for how it will meet its spent nuclear fuel obligations in the very likely event that the DOE does not begin accepting spent fuel by 2030,” the lawyers write. “It is Holtec’s burden to demonstrate its financial qualifications, and all credible evidence in the record suggests that this projection is not ‘based on plausible assumptions and forecasts.’ “

The decommissioning work would be done by a Holtec subsidiary, Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a joint venture with SNC-Lavalin.

On Tuesday, Holtec sued New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority in its dispute over $260 million in tax incentives it was promised to build a warehouse and headquarters on the Camden waterfront.

Iran hits Iraqi army base holding US troops

Two rockets hit Iraqi army base holding US troops ‘just days before PM visits White House’

TWO rockets have hit an army base in Iraq holding US troops.

By REBECCA PERRING

20:06, Sat, Aug 15, 2020 | UPDATED: 22:10, Sat, Aug 15, 2020

Two Katyusha rockets fell in Iraq’s Taji base that hosts US-led coalition troops, the state news agency said on Saturday, citing a military statement. No injuries have been reported. Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, said: “Another rocket attack today on Camp Taji in #Iraq just days before its prime minister is scheduled to visit the White House on August 20.”

It comes after the US embassy in Baghdad was targetted by three rockets in Iraq’s capital earlier this month.

The attacks took place near to the border of Kuwait and just north of the capital.

The missile strikes did not cause any casualties but there was damage to equipment.

Time for Babylon the Great to Snapback

What is the U.S. threat to trigger ‘snapback’ of U.N. sanctions on Iran? | Article [AMP] | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States on Friday failed in its attempt to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran, and Washington could now act on a threat to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

Here is a look at the events leading to the showdown and an explanation of what could happen next.

WHY IS THE ARMS EMBARGO ON IRAN EXPIRING?

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The United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Iran in 2007.

The embargo is due to expire in mid-October, as agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal among Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States that prevents Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for economic sanctions relief. That accord is enshrined in a 2015 Security Council resolution.

In 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump quit the accord reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, calling it “the worst deal ever.”

The United States failed on Friday in a bid to extend the arms embargo on Iran at the U.N. Security Council.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE 2015 NUCLEAR DEAL?

Even though the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, Washington has threatened to use a provision in the agreement to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not extend the arms embargo.

While diplomats have predicted that the so-called sanctions snapback process at the Security Council would be messy – with the remaining parties to the nuclear deal opposed to such a move – it could ultimately kill the nuclear deal because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities.

After the United States quit the deal, it imposed strong unilateral sanctions. In response, Iran has breached parts of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday described the next few weeks and months as critical.

WHAT SANCTIONS WOULD SNAP BACK?

A snapback of U.N. sanctions would require Iran to suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and ban imports of anything that could contribute to those activities or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

It would reimpose the arms embargo, ban Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and reimpose targeted sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities. Countries also would be urged to inspect shipments to and from Iran and authorized to seize any banned cargo.

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HOW DOES THE UNITED STATES TRIGGER A SANCTIONS SNAPBACK?

The United States would have to submit a complaint about Iran breaching the nuclear deal to the Security Council.

The council would then have to vote within 30 days on a resolution to continue Iran’s sanctions relief. If such a resolution is not put forward by the deadline, all U.N. sanctions in place before the 2015 nuclear deal would be automatically reimposed.

Some diplomats have said the United States could submit its complaint as early as next week.

CAN THE U.S. EFFORT BE STOPPED?

It was not immediately clear how Russia, China or any other Security Council members might try to stop the United States from triggering a sanctions snapback or if procedurally there is any way they can.

Diplomats have said several countries are likely to argue that the United States legally could not activate a return of U.N. sanctions and therefore they simply would not reimpose the measures on Iran themselves.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Will Dunham)

Babylon the Great Counters the Chinese Nuclear Horn

US considers midrange missile deployment in Asia to counter China

Top arms envoy calls Beijing’s nuclear buildup ‘immediate threat’ to region. WASHINGTON — Top arms envoy calls Beijing’s nuclear buildup ‘immediate threat’ to regiontalk with Asian allies about deploying midrange missiles now under development to counter the “immediate threat” of China’s nuclear arsenal, Washington’s top arms control negotiator told Nikkei in a phone interview Friday.

Marshall Billingslea, the special presidential envoy for arms control, said Washington wants to “engage in talks with our friends and allies in Asia over the immediate threat that the Chinese nuclear buildup poses, not just to the United States but to them, and the kinds of capabilities that we will need to defend the alliance in the future.” 

In particular, Billingslea pointed to a midrange, non-nuclear, ground-launched cruise missile under development in the U.S. Work began in August 2019 after the U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which banned such weapons.

This weapon is “exactly the kind of defensive capability that countries such as Japan will want and will need for the future,” Billingslea said.

The new missile is believed to have a range of 1,000 km. This is not long enough to reach China even from Guam, meaning that it would need to be deployed in Asia to serve as an effective countermeasure.

U.S. special envoy Marshall Billingslea speaks to the media after a meeting with Russia’s deputy foreign minister in Vienna on June 23.   © Reuters

Billingslea also noted that multiple branches of the U.S. military are developing hypersonic weapons. These weapons, which travel at five times the speed of sound or more and pose problems for traditional missile-defense systems, could potentially counter Beijing’s anti-access and area denial strategy for preventing American forces from projecting power in waters around China.

Hypersonic weapons “are very stabilizing defensive capabilities which, in the Asia-Pacific region, will ensure that our allies and our friends and our partners are protected and that China cannot engage in military blackmail, as it tries to redraw boundaries and authorities,” Billingslea said.

Asked about the Japanese government’s discussion of developing the ability to counterattack enemy missile bases as an alternative to the halted Aegis Ashore missile shield, Billingslea said such capabilities “would be of value.”

But he stressed that Tokyo should not neglect conventional missile defense. “Defensive capabilities against incoming ballistic missile attacks could be very important,” he said.

Billingslea is involved in developing security policy under President Donald Trump and is known to have hawkish views on China. He serves as the U.S. point man on negotiations with Russia toward a new nuclear treaty. Billingslea led the Financial Action Task Force, a global body that works to counter terrorism financing, before being appointed to his current post in April.

Provoking the Iranian Horn

Officials of Iran’s regime have repeatedly admitted that Iran’s economic situation is worse now than during the Iran-Iraq war.

Bijan Zanganeh, the Minister of Oil, in September 2019 said: “The current economic situation in the country has become more difficult since the war because during the war we sold oil without any restrictions, the money from the sale of oil went to the banks and we bought whatever we wanted.”

Translating the words of this official, as he said, “we bought whatever we wanted”, are the staggering costs of the war, taken from the pockets of the people. Things like the purchase of TOW and Hawk missiles as well as F-4 and M-60 spare parts, and AIM-9 Sidewinder and of course many other things and war equipment.  In those circumstances, the people were only able to provide their basic goods by coupons. Long queues to buy oil and gas, as well as basic necessities such as chicken, cheese, sugar, were part of people’s daily lives. In those years, in some months of the year, Iran’s oil sales had dropped from a few million barrels per day to 1,000 barrels per day, and the Iranian economy was in a severe recession.

Now after a year the state-run daily Aftab Yazd, while repeating the confessions of the regime’s Minister of Oil, quoting an economic specialist, Morteza Afagheh wrote:

Our current economic and political situation is much worse than it was during the war, because during the war, although there were trade restrictions, we were able to sell oil and import the goods we needed, and the population was not so large. But in the current situation, we are not able to sell oil and we cannot import the required goods in the reserve currency.

“Nor can we import currency from the goods we possibly sell through the banking system. But we have to admit that three decades after the war, we recklessly lost a lot of resources and failed to bring the economy to a point where people are not under so much pressure and below the poverty line under sanctions.” (Aftab Yazd, 6 August 2020)

The question is where the huge oil revenues have gone over the past few decades and on what priority are, they spent. What about other non-oil products? What has happened to fisheries, petrochemicals, forests and mines, and other national resources over all these years?

These are the main questions that no one in Iran will answer because tracking the traces of all these resources, you will land on nowhere else than the so-called Beyt-e-Khamenei (House of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei), and of course, this is a red line.

But such people are not even concerned about Iran and the people’s lives, instead their main concerns are just the security and the existence of this regime. Of course, to find out a way, not to been overthrow:

“We should blame the people who in these three decades, especially in the eighties (Persian calendar equivalent to the 2000s), with their abundant oil revenues, could not take the economic infrastructure to a position where we do not suffer so much now. Now more than 40 percent of the population is below the poverty line and measures must be considered, otherwise socio-political and economic tensions are inevitable.” (Aftab Yazd)

About the illusion of the coupon, the state-run daily Jahan Sanat on 6 August wrote: “Granting a commodity coupon to the poor and needy can be useful in the current difficult and complex situation and provide the poor with a minimum standard of living, but the implementation of this policy requires the allocation of huge financial resources by the government. At the same time, the government has been unable to cover its current costs and is struggling with all kinds of costs, from retirement costs to the payment of workers’ salaries to state-owned and semi-government companies.”

The regime is investing all of its resources on its global terror and supporting its proxy groups from Lebanon’s Hezbollah to Iraq on the Al-Hashd Al-Sha’bi (PMF) and the Houthis in Yemen, and many other places. So, nothing will be left for the people.

Massive Israeli Airstrikes Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Massive Israeli Airstrikes Reported in North, East and South of Gaza

On Saturday night, Israeli warplanes launched a number of missiles at Palestinian civilian areas in the northern, southern and eastern West Bank, according to local sources. The areas hit include Khan Younis, in the southern West Bank, Beit Lahia, in the north, and al-Boreij refugee camp, in eastern Gaza.

Dozens of injuries have been reported, according to Dr. Basem Naim, who tweeted this video:

Saturday’s bombings marked the seventh straight night of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. Israel claimed it launched the massive missiles into the Palestinian civilian areas in response to what it called ‘incendiary balloons’ from Gaza, which are children’s party balloons with a string attached, bearing a flaming rag or paper that someone in Gaza sent floating upward.

Following the Israeli bombardment, several Palestinian-fired rockets were seen heading toward the Israeli border.

This Video by: Muhammad Najjar/Quds News Network shows one of the bombings, in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military claimed that the airstrikes targeted “Hamas targets”, although it was unclear what that meant.

The Israeli military continues to hold the Gaza Strip under siege since 2007. This means that the Israeli military controls all access to the Palestinian Territory, and controls all land, water and air. Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip are imprisoned, unable to leave or return without Israeli permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.

Bombing east of Gaza City

India-Pakistan relations reach rock bottom before the first nuclear war

India-Pakistan relations have reached rock bottom

Ironically, Modi has vindicated Pakistan’s existence by creating a de facto Hindu India

Ashis Ray

Seventy-three years ago on August 15, the nation of India awoke, in the immortal words of its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘to life and freedom’ after 190 years of British rule. It was a truncated triumph. Before its departure from the subcontinent, Britain conceded to demands for a separate homeland for Muslims and carved out significant swathes of India into Pakistan. Vocal and influential land-owning Muslim elites were convinced they would be unbearably subjugated in an independent India where Hindus were hegemonic.

If the partition of India was intended to usher in reconciliation, this is yet to materialize. The two South Asian neighbors have since bloodily engaged in three major and two minor wars. Indeed, exchanges of heavy artillery fire across the United Nations-mandated line of control (LOC) in Kashmir remains a frequent phenomenon. Any escalation is unnerving, for both Pakistan and India have stockpiled nuclear warheads, and the former is dismissive of the no-first-use doctrine. Prof Pervez Hoodbhoy, a respected Pakistani nuclear physicist has warned:

‘It is difficult to find another example where the defence apparatus of a modern state (Pakistan) has been rendered so vulnerable by the threat posed by military insiders.’

The Pakistani army has been a stumbling block to any rapprochement with India. It often harps on about the ‘unfinished business’ of partition, which is code for appropriating the whole of Kashmir. Its covert operations wing, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments Islamic fundamentalism and separatism in Indian-administered Kashmir. Western countries suspect it continues to control and collude with terrorist individuals and organizations to trigger violence in India.

In 2006 the two nations came close to resolving the Kashmir impasse. This was thwarted because India’s ruling circumspect Congress party — a mainstay of Indian politics since independence — simply could not trust a regime headed by Pakistani army chief, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

So, there was a degree of excitement in civilian circles in Islamabad when Narendra Modi of the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata party ascended to power in India in 2014. Former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, in his book Neither a Hawk nor a Dove, felt the Indian politician was ‘a pragmatist in the ultimate analysis’.

But Modi, radicalized as a child by the Islamophobic volunteer organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has consistently demonstrated a visceral dislike of Muslims. Besides, Pakistan-bashing has proved to be electorally bountiful for him.

Two months before last year’s general election in India over 40 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed in Kashmir by a suicide bomber. The Indian Air Force retaliated by strafing an alleged anti-India terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The following day Pakistan despatched combat aircraft over Indian air-space. A dog-fight ensued, resulting in an Indian plane being blown out of the air and its pilot bailing out on the Pakistani side of the LOC. The saber-rattling was sufficient for Modi to reverse his depleting prospects in the elections.

After his reelection Modi has attempted to disenfranchise Indian Muslims and pursued a jackboot suppression of Kashmiri Muslims. In disregard of India’s secular constitution, he has also become involved in the building of a Hindu temple, where a 16th-century mosque stood before it was razed by Hindu zealots in 1992.

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When there was an inclusive central government, India’s 200 million Muslims enjoyed substantial equality in the country, despite Hindus constituting 80 percent of the population. As such, the justification for Pakistan was often questioned by liberals on both sides of the border. Ironically, Modi has vindicated Pakistan’s existence by creating a de facto Hindu India.

Modi promised an economic miracle when he was elected. Six years on, international agencies have downgraded India’s sovereign credit rating to just above junk. The country is clocking one of the highest COVID-19 cases and deaths a day in the world, because of its unscientific response to the pandemic. Its territorial integrity is challenged by China. Incapable of resolving any of these crises, Modi has predictably intensified playing the Hindu card — which includes maintaining tension with Pakistan.

There has been a consensus among Pakistan’s principal political parties in favor of a détente with India. Equally there has been doubt as to whether Pakistan’s army shares this enthusiasm. Imran Khan, protégé of the military, charismatic cricketer and now Pakistani prime minister, was well placed to move relations forward. But his previous sporting spirit has this month subsided into a confrontational attitude, with his publication of a new political map of Pakistan which includes the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir state. India reacted by calling it ‘political absurdity’. Relations have truly reached rock-bottom.

This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.