Babylon The Great Spreads Her Nukes (Daniel 7)

160228-belgium-nuclear-reactor-mn-1545_7fb434dc2585c56d8743954c54e615a7.nbcnews-fp-1200-800 

U.S. mulls long-term, bomb-grade uranium exports to Belgium

Reuters
The U.S. nuclear regulator is considering long-term shipments of weapons-grade uranium to a medical research reactor in security-challenged Belgium, something critics say would set back global anti-proliferation efforts.

With a final decision still months away, the Belgian Nuclear Research Center is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to receive 144 kgs of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, fuel in a series of shipments over 10 years.

The United States has supplied the reactor, which produces radioisotopes for fighting cancer, with HEU for decades. But the long-term nature of the latest request is unprecedented; previous agreements have been for periods of one to three years.

The Belgian research center has told U.S. officials since at least 2005 that it is on the verge of converting to low-enriched uranium, or LEU, not suitable for bombs. But there is no definitive date set for that change.

“Now more than a decade has passed and they are asking for another 10 years — that seems to be a bit preposterous,” said Armando Traveli, who until 2005 headed the U.S. Energy Department’s program to convert research reactors to safer uranium and bring bomb-grade uranium back to the United States.

If the Belgian reactor closes before the end of the 10 years, it could leave the center with an HEU supply over which the United States would have little control, he said.
Belgium has beefed up protections at nuclear plants after being rocked with security problems at the facilities for years. In 2014, an unknown perpetrator drained turbine lubricant at the country’s Doel 4 reactor, shutting the power plant and causing $200 million in damages.

This year police said bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels had secretly filmed movements of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research program. Police said the bombers, who were part of coordinated attacks March 22 that killed 32 civilians, had planned to target Belgium’s nuclear research facilities before changing their minds. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

Alan Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas, said if the NRC approves the application it would undermine efforts to swiftly convert reactors and signal that the United States is not serious about retrieving HEU.

“In the wake of the recent terrorist threat to the Belgian site, we have a request for bomb-grade uranium that is unprecedented in both duration and amount,” said Kuperman who has filed a brief with the NRC calling for a hearing into the matter.

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms For Peace program launched a wave of global research reactors using HEU in the 1950s, but experts soon urged tightening controls. Since 1978, the United States has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to do so. Nearly 100 global research reactors have been shut down or converted to run on non-weapons grade uranium, but more than 70 plants still use HEU or plan to.

The application at the NRC, published this month in the Federal Register, is open for public comment until early September.

The NRC said there are no temporal restrictions on HEU shipments and that it approves exports only to users with “adequate physical security measures.” It will likely rule in coming months after the Department of Energy and State Department weigh in.

The Belgian center says the reactor supplies about 25 percent of the world’s radioisotopes used in detecting and treating cancers and more in peak demand periods.

In the past, some reactors have switched to safe fuels only after the NRC threatened to cut off supply of HEU. But one American working on converting the Belgian reactor said its special need for high-energy density fuel means no suitable substitute has yet been found.

The Belgians are asking for 10 years because “there’s no other fuel they can use at the moment,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, adding that contracts for HEU exports shorter than 10 years “drive the costs way up.”

The Belgian research center said in a statement it is committed to using only low-enriched uranium fuel in the reactor “as soon as a technical solution exists.” It has the same security procedures as the country’s nuclear power plants, with permanent military protection, it added.

The New Nuclear Terrorism (Daniel 8:4)

Amid IS Terrorism, New Fears Of A Nuclear Motive
doel-nuclear-plant-belgium
By Michael Moran

WASHINGTON – The discovery of surveillance footage of one of Belgium’s nuclear facilities in a raid on Islamic State terror cells has lent new urgency to efforts at securing such sites against possible heists of nuclear materials.

Since the end of the Cold War, the risk of nuclear proliferation has focused primarily on suspected state-led efforts – mostly in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and North Korea. But the video footage found during the arrest in February of suspected IS member Mohammed Bakkali, linked to the November 13 attacks on Paris, has caused shudders in western security circles. Since then, the IAEA has confirmed that radioactive material has disappeared from hospital facilities in the area of Iraq held by IS, raising concern that the group might be planning to build a radiological “dirty bomb.”

A dirty bomb is not a nuclear weapon per se, but rather a conventional explosive that would disperse highly radioactive material over a wide area. Though infinitely less lethal than an actual nuclear explosion, officials believe such a device could be highly lethal and render small areas of major cities uninhabitable for a prolonged period.

All of this should be top of mind later this week when President Barack Obama convenes the last of a series of Nuclear Security Summits (NSS) launched by the US in 2010 to focus on securing the widespread stocks of potentially lethal radioactive materials stored all over the world. The threat posed by such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists is highlighted in this new documentary released to coincide with the summit.

The nuclear security summits, held every two years since 2010, have bolstered international cooperation and raised awareness about the threat of nuclear terrorism posed by inadequately secured nuclear materials worldwide. For instance, the number of countries where highly enriched uranium or plutonium is stored has fallen – but 27 states still store such material, and not always in the most secure circumstances.

The March 31-April 1 summit at the White House in Washington will be the fourth such summit, and as Obama’s tenure is almost over, the final in the NSS series. Whether this work will continue is something that deeply concerns nuclear security experts.

“If the leaders finish this meeting and there’s no mechanism to continue engaging each other, to continue making commitments to build the global system we need for nuclear material security, we won’t reach the point that we need to in terms of a legal architecture, in terms of leaders that are committed to nuclear security, and in terms of building accountability,” says Joan Rolfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Institute, a nonprofit group that studies nuclear issues.

Another concern is Russia’s absence from the summit. Regarded as one of the more vulnerable links in the chain of nuclear material security, Russia has refused to participate in the final summit after its actions in Ukraine prompted US and EU economic sanctions. That has some experts worried that IS or other terrorist groups could take advantage of the loss of focus.

“The fact that Russia decided not to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit any longer is very detrimental to the process, because the United States and Russia remain the main holders of both nuclear weapons and nuclear material,” said Togzhan Kassenova of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Russia is extremely important to the secure nuclear future of the whole world. I just personally hope that maybe, with time, Russia will come back to cooperation with their partners on this very, very important issue.”

Meanwhile, in Belgium, authorities rescinded security badges from several employees of the country’s nuclear facilities late last week after investigations raised concerns about a possible IS plot to infiltrate or even sabotage the country’s nuclear power facilities. In 2012, Belgium confirmed that two employees of its nuclear power facility in Doel quit to join IS jihadists fighting in Syria. The issue, as they say, is on the front burner.

Michael Moran is a New York-based Managing Director for Global Risk Analysis concentrating on the United States and global issues at Control Risks, the world’s leading political, integrity, and security risk consultancy.

The Inevitable Nuclear Attack (Revelation 15:2)

Brussels bombers were planning NUCLEAR attack, fresh police video evidence confirms

THE Brussels-based gang of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists who co-ordinated Tuesday’s massacre WERE planning an attack on one of the country’s nuclear power plants, police now believe.

By TOM BATCHELOR

09:32, Fri, Mar 25, 2016 | UPDATED: 09:44, Fri, Mar 25, 2016

Investigators have discovered more than 12 hours of footage filmed by jihadis of the home Belgium’s nuclear power chief.

Police have deduced that the terror group were planning to kidnap the senior nuclear official in a bid to force him to give the extremists access to the highly sensitive atomic site.

Belgium bombers – brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui – had hidden their camera in the bushes near the home, it was reported.

Belgian authorities evacuated two nuclear power plants after suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and on a Metro train in the centre of the city, which left at least 31 people dead.

The Tihange power plant, an hour’s drive from the Belgian capital in the province of Liege, and the Doel power plant in Antwerp were cleared amid heightened fears of another attack.

Security has been stepped up at both Doel, which houses four reactors, and Tihange, which houses three.

Armed police and the Belgian military had been on site since the weekend following growing calls from the energy industry to beef up security at the potentially vulnerable plants.

All non-essential staff had been evacuated at the request of Belgian authorities, although the plants continued to operate with key staff remaining on site.

According to Belgian newspaper Derniere Heure (DH), the jihadi gang had a camera trained on the home of the Research and Development Director of the Belgian Nuclear Programme.

The footage was obtained by police after a raid on an apartment in Brussels in December, a month after the Paris massacre.

It was only later that police made the terrifying links between the CCTV surveillance and the terror threat engulfing Europe.

It prompted Belgian authorities in February to deploy 140 soldiers to the nuclear plants, leading some to speculate that the terror cell was then forced to switch its focus to softer targets such as the Brussels Metro.

DH claims to have seen information which directly links the terrorist brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui to the footage.

The Nuclear End Is Much Closer (Revelation 9)

Brussels attackers were considering nuclear site, changed their minds: paper

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels were originally considering an attack on a nuclear site in Belgium, but arrests started last week may have forced them to switch to targets in the Belgian capital, the DH newspaper said.
Referring to an incident in December that prosecutors confirmed in which militants covertly filmed the home of an unidentified senior official in the nuclear industry, the paper quoted a police source as saying two of the suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui, had filmed the daily routine of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research and development program.
The police source did not address why investigators thought they had continued to plan to go through with the plan despite the discovery of the covert video three months ago and the ramping up of security around nuclear plants as a result.
The sensitive inner high-security areas of a nuclear power station would almost certainly have been beyond the reach of militants such as the Bakraouis.
A 10-hour video from a camera hidden in front of the nuclear official’s house was found in December during a police raid in Belgium, linked to the Paris attacks a month before.
On February 17, Belgian prosecutors confirmed the existence of the video seized in December and said the man in it was linked to the country’s nuclear industry.
Earlier this month, 140 soldiers were dispatched to guard the country’s three nuclear sites. On Tuesday after the Brussels bombings, the sites were sealed and non-essential staff evacuated as a precaution.
While investigators had known the camera with the video had been removed from its concealment by two men, they did not know their identity. DH said it was now clear that it was the two brothers.
Investigators were not available for comment.
Any plans for an assault on a nuclear site, even a symbolic operation on the perimeter, might have been foiled by a police operation last week in the Brussels borough of Forest, the newspaper said. In that raid, officers unexpectedly stumbled upon armed men in a flat that was searched in connection to the Paris attacks investigation.
One of the men in the flat, later identified as an Algerian national called Mohammed Belkaid, was killed by police in a shootout and police believe one or two others may have escaped.
But clues found in the flat led the police to the arrest three days later of the prime surviving suspect in the Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam and another suspected militant Amine Choukri also using the name of Monir Ahmed Alaaj.
The arrests may have forced the hand of the attackers who decided to shift to targets in Brussels, focusing on the airport and metro: “There is no doubt that they rushed their operations because they felt under pressure,” the police source was quoted by DH as saying.
“Even if one couldn’t prevent these (Brussels) attacks, one can say that their magnitude could have been much bigger if the terrorists had been able to implement their original plan and not opted for easier targets,” said the police source.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Ralph Boulton)