Russia Increases Her Yellowcake (Daniel 7)

 
Russia plans to double uranium production during next five years

Posted on September 30, 2015 by Eugene Gerden

Rosatom plans to almost double the volume of uranium production during the next five years, despite the current low global prices for the metal.

Implementation of these plans will take place by Rosatom through its Uranium One (U1) subsidiary, which is part of Rosatom, bringing together foreign uranium assets of the company.

At the initial stage of the project, U1 plans to focus on the development of highly enriched uranium fields in Kazakhstan. As part of the company’s plans, the volume of the Kazakh uranium production will be increased by 18%, up to 5,500 tonnes. The increase of Kazakh production will be also beneficial for U1 due to low cost of uranium production in the country.

It is planned that implementation of the Kazakh project will take place through the expansion of joint projects of U1 with local Kazatomprom, a state-owned nuclear holding company in Kazakhstan.
According to Alexander Boytsov, director of U1’s department of resource development, in addition to Kazakh production, the company plans to start the development of uranium fields in Tanzania. Successful implementation of the Tanzanian project will help U1 to increase the overal volume of its uranium production up to 10,000 tonnes and to resume its activities in the field of uranium production.

Due to low global uranium prices, Rosatom decided to suspend investments in the development of new uranium fields in November 2013. In addition, the company has also decided to suspend activities on the existing uranium fields.

According to a spokesman of Rosatom, much will depend on further development of situation in the global uranium market. Spot uranium prices are currently varied in the range of US$38-40 per pound of uranium oxide, due to a low global demand for uranium, which observed in recent years and which was mainly caused by the suspension of many nuclear reactors in Japan and Europe.

Due to this, Rosatom decided to close and later sold its Australian Honeymoon uranium field to local Boss Resources and Wattle Mining Pty Ltd companies.

In addition, the company decided to reduce production on its US Willow Creek nuclear asset from 900,000 to 600,000 pounds of uranium oxide in 2014.

In the case of Tanzania, particular hopes of Rosatom are related with the launch of the local Mkuju River uranium mine, which overal reserves are estimated at 48,000 tonnes, of which the share of U1 is equivalent to 6,700 tonnes.

The time of the development of the mine is not disclosed, however, according to some local media reports, there is a possibility that it may be launched already in April 2016.

The development of uranium fileds in Tanzania can be beneficial for the company, due to its plans to use underground leaching, which is the most modern method of uranium production and which is associated with lower costs.

At the same time, in addition to foreign projects, as part of the plans of Rosatom is a significant increase of the domestic uranium production. This will mainly take place on the Khiagdinskoye ore field in Buryatia, which overall reserves are estimated of over 300,000 tonnes of uranium.

Still, despite the plans of Russia to significantly increase the volume of uranium production during the next several years it will be still lower the figures of Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer since 2009.

Over the past 10 years, the country has increased the volume of its production by almost six times. Last year the Kazakh uranium production increased by 1.5 percent – up to 22.829 tonnes.

Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. After graduation of the geology department of the St. Petersburg State University he worked as a senior analyst in the department of mining of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources for three years.

If India Has No Nuclear Safety Standard, Why Will Iran? (Daniel 8:3)

India is busily negotiating bilateral agreements with its nuclear trading partners to assure them that the uranium they supply to India will not end up in Indian nuclear weapons. This is a standard practice for states involved in nuclear cooperation, yet India has set out to weaken the information sharing provisions in its agreements with Canada, the United States, and soon Australia. All three supplier states support India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), but India’s behavior here hardly supports New Delhi’s contention that it is like-minded.

These negotiations follow from an Indian commitment to the United States, pursuant to a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, to separate its civilian and military nuclear activities. In part on this basis, in 2008 the NSG lifted nuclear trade sanctions against India imposed in 1974 after India had used Canadian uranium, which had been provided to India on condition that it would be used only for peaceful use, to produce plutonium for a nuclear explosive.

Since 2008, foreign suppliers have been permitted to conclude contracts to supply uranium to India. Conditions for this trade are set down in bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements in which India has pledged to use all nuclear materials it obtains from outside suppliers for peaceful purposes. All of the countries which are selling uranium to India are parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That commits them to make sure their exports do not contribute to the manufacture of nuclear weapons in India.

India is not being singled out in this regard. The United States and the European Union, as well as Australia and Canada – in recent decades the world’s two leading uranium producers and exporters – have concluded so-called administrative arrangements with scores of foreign countries that permit supplier states to track the whereabouts of all the uranium they export. Although there is significant diversity in the agreements amongst nuclear trading states about how to share information, they constitute a standard evolved over time to ensure that such trade does not violate international rules.

In the nonproliferation interest, uranium exporters’ nuclear cooperation agreements are designed to ensure that exported uranium is not enriched to weapons-grade, is not re-transferred to third parties, and is not reprocessed to separate plutonium without consent. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, which may apply to foreign-sourced uranium in India’s civil nuclear program, do not consider the origin of the uranium subject to safeguards. That’s important because some producers whose uranium market shares are on the rise, such as Kazakhstan and some African states, do not scrupulously track the uranium they export. Their uranium safeguards policies put commercial pressure on other supplier states to follow suit in India.

The goal of accounting is to make sure that uranium exported under a peaceful-use pledge is not used for nuclear weapons and to identify nuclear material that is subject to any other obligations agreed with a supplier state. A supplier state can account for its uranium as it moves through India’s fuel cycle, first by identifying (“flagging”) the uranium carrying its obligations, and then by accounting for it at each stage in the fuel cycle, including conversion, fuel fabrication, irradiation, and reprocessing. The accounting is made possible by provision of data on fuel burnup rates, process losses, and other parameters concerning what physically and chemically happens to the uranium as it is used. This data could be provided by India to its foreign uranium suppliers, but India so far has not agreed to provide all the data that was requested by Canada and the U.S. and it may balk at cooperating with Australia, Japan, and other countries.

Canada may try to compensate for lack of Indian cooperation by using some commercial operations data on Canadian-design reactors. The U.S. may fall back on data from fabrication in the U.S. of fuel using U.S.-obligated uranium destined for Indian reactors. Both sets of data may permit some level of assurance that India is using the uranium in peaceful applications and fulfilling its bilateral obligations, but in general fall short of standard practices of information provision.

Next week Australian lawmakers will debate Canberra’s ongoing uranium safeguards discussions with India. They should take note that, unless perhaps all Australian uranium destined for India were to be processed and fabricated into fuel before being exported to India, the U.S. approach would not cover all Australian uranium destined for India. Under its agreement with India, Australia may supply India with bulk uranium as well as fabricated nuclear fuel. Indian cooperation with Australia therefore seems essential to meet the tracking requirements of Australian safeguards policy and the best solution would be for India to provide the information which Australia needs. Again, it is worth reiterating that what is being requested of India is standard practice; New Delhi is not being asked to uphold a higher standard.

Parliamentarians should consider that what Australia requires in its arrangement with India may have signal impact this May when the NPT’s 189 parties review the treaty. They might also consider that the international reputation of Australia’s uranium industry has increasingly depended upon transparent implementation of national policies, including on nonproliferation.

As India’s weight in the world grows, its nuclear industry is forming partnerships with the world’s leading suppliers of power reactors and nuclear fuel. For good reasons, including global warming, India’s foreign partners support this development, and nuclear companies worldwide are eager to seize new business opportunities in selling equipment and uranium to India.

But India and uranium suppliers must know that the separation of military and peaceful-use nuclear activities is a cornerstone of the world’s nuclear governance system. States that dismiss as inconvenient controls designed to verify that separation signal instead that it matters little if their commerce might contribute to production of nuclear weapons. Australia, Canada, and the United States have shown leadership in uranium governance and they should continue to do so – including in the NSG which under the 2008 India exception decision required that all its uranium suppliers account for their exports to India.

Lack of full Indian cooperation with foreign uranium suppliers will damage New Delhi’s case for membership in multilateral trade control bodies like the NSG it keenly wants to join. If India is seeking to weaken standard practices in its bilateral negotiations, what message does that send about its likely behavior were it to be invited to join multilateral regimes? If uranium supplier states are deterred from accounting for their uranium in India, that would inform all NPT parties that have pledged to renounce nuclear weapons that it doesn’t matter whether nuclear goods, sold on condition that they will be used peacefully, might be used to make deadly arms.

Mark Hibbs is a research scholar in the Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Israel’s Double Standard (Leviticus 19:35)

Gaza Cease-Fire: Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya and N. Korea, Israel Has Impunity From Defying UNSC

Posted on Jul 29, 2014

By Juan Cole

PM Netanyahu's Double Standard

PM Netanyahu’s Double Standard
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. yakub88 / Shutterstock.com

This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

The United Nations Security Council is theoretically a sort of sovereign in international law.  If it designates a regime like that of Gaddafi in Libya as a threat to international peace, it can deputize the nations of the world to remove it.  One major exception to UNSC authority is Israel, which routinely thumbs its nose at the world body while suffering no sanctions or other punishment.

Defying the UNSC can be extremely dangerous and costly.  It demanded that Iraq dismantle its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and destroy any stockpiles of such unconventional weapons, in a series of resolutions after the Gulf War.  The Bush administration alleged that Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein had declined completely to destroy those stockpiles and so was in violation of international law, and therefore claimed a sort of indirect sanction from the UNSC to invade and occupy Iraq in order to finish the job.  (Unfortunately for Bush, the Baath regime in Iraq had in fact destroyed the stockpiles; this had not stopped Bush propagandists from continuing to this day to cite Saddam Hussein’s alleged defiance of the UNSC as a justification for the US war on Iraq.)  Saddam Hussein was hanged in December 2006.

The UNSC demanded a decade or so ago that Iran mothball its civilian, peaceful nuclear enrichment program, aimed at gaining the capacity to fuel nuclear reactors to produce electricity.  Iran refused, citing the pledge in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that guarantees all countries the right to close the fuel cycle.  (Note that Israel went for broke to develop a nuclear warhead, of which it has several hundred, and never suffered any sanctions at all.)

As a result of the UNSC resolutions against Iran, the Obama administration was emboldened to impose a financial boycott on Iran, having it kicked off all the major banking exchanges and making it difficult or impossible for Iran to get paid for its petroleum.  Then the US went around strong-arming countries like South Korea in a bid to force them to stop importing Iranian petroleum.  A simple US congressional resolution would probably not have given the US the legitimacy to pursue this financial blockade against Iran, but the UNSC resolutions were much more persuasive, combined with US threats to sanction companies that traded with Iran.

Iran’s oil export earnings fell to $61.92 billion in 2013, “down 46% from $114.75 billion in 2011.”  That was an over $50 bn annual fine for defying the UNSC, even when it wasn’t clear that international law justified the UNSC stance.

UNSC resolutions against the North Korean nuclear weapons program (a kind of military program Iran does not even have) imposed an arms embargo and even permitted other countries to board North Korean vessels at will on the high seas if they suspected that weapons were aboard– a severe attack on the country’s national sovereignty.

So when the UNSC calls on Israel and on Hamas in Gaza to institute an immediate ceasefire, and they refuse, they will attract sanctions, right?  These demands, everyone knows, would be full-fledged resolutions if they weren’t watered down by the US.  (And let us face it, Israel is the one with the firepower here; it has killed over a thousand in this round of fighting, 80% of them non-combatants;  Hamas has killed four dozen or so Israelis, all but three soldiers).  I mean, Saddam Hussein was hanged merely for being falsely accused of violating UNSC resolutions!  And what if, as with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel not only refuses the demand for an immediate ceasefire but actually accuses the world’s major powers of being accomplices to terrorism? Doesn’t that sound a little bit like Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking of “global arrogance”?

Wouldn’t the UNSC do something to Netanyahu for sassing them that way?  Wouldn’t they devastate the Israeli economy the way they did the Iranian?  Wouldn’t they authorize military action to protect civilians in Gaza from Israeli war crimes, as they did in Libya?

Nope.

President Obama will protect Israel from any accountability by wielding his veto.

And that is one of the reasons for the mess in the Mideast.  The Israeli leadership is completely fearless because it knows that the US will protect it no matter what it does, up to and including calling high American officials terrorist sympathizers.

The truth is that Mr. Obama could end the madness fairly easily.  He could just abstain when the UNSC votes sanctions on Israel for its violations of international law.

The European Union has forwarded the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the US, as an American sphere of influence.  The US congress and government more generally, in turn, has been bought and paid for by the Israel lobbies, including the “Christian Zionists.”  Unless and until counter-lobbies are formed that effectively contest with AIPAC for influence over US representatives, the problems in the Mideast are unsolvable.