Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

It’s a myth that thorium nuclear reactors were ever commercially viable

April 2, 2018

Dispelling Claim 2: Thorium did not get a chance in the  nuclear energy development because it is not  usable for military purposes   Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann  1 March 2018

In the early stages of nuclear technology in the USA (from 1944 to the early 1950s), reprocessing technology was not yet well developed. Better developed were graphite moderated reactors that used natural uranium and bred plutonium.

For the use of thorium (which, other than uranium, does not contain fissile components), enriched uranium or possibly plutonium would have been indispensable.

Initially, neither pathway for thorium development was chosen because it would have automatically reduced the still limited capacity for military fissile materials production. (Thorium has a higher capture cross section for thermal (that means slow) neutrons than U-238. For that reason, it needs as fertile material in reactors a higher fissile density than U-238.)

Only when the US enrichment capacity at about 1950 delivered sufficient enriched uranium, the military and later civil entry into thorium technology started: in 1955 a bomb with U-233 from thorium was exploded, and a strategic U-233 reserve of around 2 metric tons was created. The large head-start of the plutonium bomb could not be overtaken any more, and plutonium remained globally the leading military fission material (although, according to unconfirmed sources, Indian nuclear weapons contain U-233).

The US military research concluded in 1966 that U-233 is a very potent nuclear weapon material, but that it offers hardly any advantages over the already established plutonium. Because light water reactors with low-enriched uranium (LEU) were already too far developed, thorium use remained marginal also in civil nuclear engineering: for instance, the German “thorium reactor” THTR-300 in Hamm operated only for a short time, and in reality it was a uranium reactor (fuel: 10% weapon-grade 93% enriched U-235 and 90% thorium) because the amount of energy produced by thorium did not exceed 25%.

 

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America’s trillions of dollars militaristic economy

April 2, 2018

The US Military Is the Biggest “Big Government” Entitlement Program on the Planet , December 10, 2017, By JP Sottile, Truthout |The US economy is caught in a trap. That trap is the Department of Defense: an increasingly sticky wicket that relies on an annual, trillion-dollar redistribution of government-collected wealth. In fact, it’s the biggest “big government” program on the planet, easily beating out China’s People’s Liberation Army in both size and cost. It is not only the “nation’s largest employer,” with 2.867 million people currently on the payroll, but it also provides government benefits to 2 million retirees and their family members. And it actively picks private sector winners by targeting billions of dollars to an elite group of profit-seeking contractors.

The top five overall recipients collectively pulled in $109.5 billion in FY2016, and their cohorts consistently dominate the government’s list of top 100 contractors. They reap this yearly largesse through a Rube-Goldberg-like system of influence peddlers, revolving doors and wasteful taxpayer-funded boondoggles. Finally, it is all justified by a deadly feedback loop of perpetual warfare that is predicated on a predictable supply of blowback.

But this belligerent cash machine doesn’t just produce haphazard interventions and shady partnerships with a motley assortment of strongmen, proxies and frenemies. It also has Uncle Sam caught in a strange cycle of taxpayer-funded dependence that may ultimately be the most expensive — and least productive — jobs program in human history………

Too Big to Fail?

The US stands alone as a globe-spanning empire with 787 overseas bases, “lily pad” deployments and host country facilities in 88 nations and territories, according to the most recent accounting by scholar David Vine. At home, a Google Maps search reveals another 603 bases, depots, arsenals and assorted military facilities peppered around the 50 states. The US dominates the land, sea and skies, and is moving to dominate space…….

taxpayers’ only end product is a larger military with more bases and more weapons. However, without a serious shift toward non-defense government priorities, cutting the defense budget would mean, in the immediate term, many Americans losing their jobs. In the absence of non-military jobs programs and other forms of robust social spending, these workers depend on military tax dollars to fund their livelihoods, their health care and their kids’ educations. Tax dollars sustain the military-driven local and regional economies within which they live and work. Not coincidentally, this misallocated investment in a “war and weapons-based economy” is, as Major Gen. (Ret.) Dennis Laich and Col. (Ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson write, also reflected in the inherent “unfairness” that feeds off the “all-volunteer force.”……….

So, what are the options now that the US finds itself stuck in this paradigmatic trap? There are three possible alternatives.

One is to simply slash the budget. The downside is that it will dislocate millions of people who rely directly and indirectly on defense spending. The upside is that it will force an immediate retreat from both empire and military Keynesianism. This also could stoke some economic growth if the half to three-quarters of a trillion in annual savings was “returned” to taxpayers in the form of a rebate check. Basically, Americans would finally get the “peace dividend” almost 30 years after the Cold War ended.

The second option is the post-WWII demobilization model. That influx of manpower was met with the GI Billtax breaks for new homeowners and investments in infrastructure. This is a truly Keynesian solution. Infrastructure jobs and educational subsidies would provide relief to Americans currently reliant on military Keynesianism for their livelihoods. The original GI Bill “returned $7 to the American economy for every $1 invested in the GI Bill,” notes Jared Lyon of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. And a study by Costs of War Project determined allocating resources to “clean energy and health care spending create 50 percent more jobs than the equivalent amount of spending on the military,” and “education spending creates more than twice as many jobs” as defense spending.

Frankly, either of these two solutions is far better than the third option, which is to continue to misallocate hundreds of billions in precious capital away from the productive economy while wreaking havoc at home and abroad. And that’s the ultimate no-win situation for a militarized economy that has manufactured its share of bloody, no-win situations since the end of World War II. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42829-the-us-military-is-the-biggest-big-government-entitlement-program-on-the-planet

 

How it happens that taxpayer $trillions are spent on nuclear weapons –  Follow the money.

April 2, 2018

Who’s Really Driving Nuclear-Weapons Production? Follow the money. By William D. Hartung [This piece has been updated and adapted from William D. Hartung’s “Nuclear Politics” in Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation, edited by Helen Caldicott and just published by the New Press.] 14 Nov 17

“………..BUILDING A NUCLEAR COMPLEX

Why the desire for so many nukes? There is, in fact, a dirty little secret behind the massive US arsenal: It has more to do with the power and profits of this country’s major weapons makers than it does with any imaginable strategic considerations.

It may not surprise you to learn that there’s nothing new about the influence the nuclear weapons lobby has over Pentagon spending priorities. The successful machinations of the makers of strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, intended to keep taxpayer dollars flowing their way, date back to the dawn of the nuclear age and are the primary reason President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” and warned of its dangers in his 1961 farewell address.

Without the development of such weapons, that complex simply would not exist in the form it does today. The Manhattan Project, the vast scientific-industrial endeavor that produced the first such weaponry during World War II, was one of the largest government-funded research and manufacturing projects in history. Today’s nuclear warhead complex is still largely built around facilities and locations that date back to that time.

The Manhattan Project was the first building block of the permanent arms establishment that came to rule Washington. In addition, the nuclear arms race against that other superpower of the era, the Soviet Union, was crucial to the rationale for a permanent war state. In those years, it was the key to sustaining the building, funding, and institutionalizing of the arms establishment.

As Eisenhower noted in that farewell address of his, “a permanent arms industry of vast proportions” had developed for a simple enough reason. In a nuclear age, America had to be ready ahead of time. As he put it, “We can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense.” And that was for a simple enough reason: In an era of potential nuclear war, any society could be destroyed in a matter of hours. There would be no time, as in the past, to mobilize or prepare after the fact.

In addition, there were some very specific ways in which the quest for more nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles drove Eisenhower to give that farewell address. One of his biggest fights was over whether to build a new nuclear bomber. The Air Force and the arms industry were desperate to do so. Eisenhower thought it a waste of money, given all the other nuclear delivery vehicles the United States was building at the time. He even cancelled the bomber, only to find himself forced to revive it under immense pressure from the arms lobby. In the process, he lost the larger struggle to rein in the nation’s nuclear buildup and corral the burgeoning military-industrial complex.

At the same time, there were rumblings in the intelligence community, the military establishment, the media, and Congress about a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union. The notion was that Moscow had somehow jumped ahead of the United States in developing and building intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). There was no definitive intelligence to substantiate the claim (and it was later proved to be false). However, a wave of worst-case scenarios leaked by or promoted by intelligence analysts and eagerly backed by industry propaganda made that missile gap part of the everyday news of the time.

Such fears were then exaggerated further, thanks to hawkish journalists of the era like Joseph Alsop and prominent Democratic senators like John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, as well as Stuart Symington, who just happened to be a friend and former colleague of an executive at the aircraft manufacturing company Convair, which, in turn, just happened to make ICBMs. As a result, he lobbied hard on behalf of a Pentagon plan to build more of that corporation’s Atlas ballistic missiles, while Kennedy would famously make the nonexistent missile gap a central theme of his successful 1960 campaign for the presidency.

Eisenhower couldn’t have been more clear-eyed about all of this. He saw the missile gap for the fiction it was or, as he put it, a “useful piece of political demagoguery” for his opponents. “Munitions makers,” he insisted, “are making tremendous efforts towards getting more contracts and in fact seem to be exerting undue influence over the Senators.”

Once Kennedy took office, it became all too apparent that there was no missile gap, but by then it hardly mattered. The damage had been done. Billions of dollars more were flowing into the nuclear-industrial complex to build up an American arsenal of ICBMs already unmatched on the planet.

The techniques that the arms lobby and its allies in government used more than half a century ago to promote sky-high nuclear weapons spending continue to be wielded to this day. The twenty-first-century arms complex employs tools of influence that Kennedy and his compatriots would have found familiar indeed—including millions of dollars in campaign contributions that flow to members of Congress and the continual employmentof 700 to 1,000 lobbyists to influence them. At certain moments, in other words, there have been nearly two arms lobbyists for every member of Congress. Much of this sort of activity remains focused on ensuring that nuclear weapons of all types are amply financed and that the funding for the new generations of the bombers, submarines, and missiles that will deliver them stays on track.

When traditional lobbying methods don’t get the job done, the industry’s argument of last resort is jobs—in particular, jobs in the states and districts of key members of Congress. This process is aided by the fact that nuclear weapons facilities are spread remarkably widely across the country. There are nuclear weapons labs in California and New Mexico; a nuclear weapons testing and research site in Nevada; a nuclear warhead assembly and disassembly plant in Texas; a factory in Kansas City, Missouri, that builds nonnuclear parts for such weapons; and a plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that enriches uranium for those same weapons. There are factories or bases for ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile submarines in Connecticut, Georgia, Washington State, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Such a nuclear geography ensures that a striking number of congressional representatives will automatically favor more spending on nuclear weapons.

In reality, the jobs argument is deeply flawed. As the experts know, virtually any other activity into which such funding flowed would create significantly more jobs than Pentagon spending. A study by economists at the University of Massachusetts, for example, found infrastructure investment would create one and one-half times as many jobs as Pentagon funding and education spending twice as many.

In most cases it hasn’t seemed to matter that the jobs claims for weapons spending are grotesquely exaggerated and better alternatives litter the landscape. The argument remains remarkably potent in states and communities that are particularly dependent on the Pentagon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of Congress from such areas are disproportionately represented on the committees that decide how much will be spent on nuclear and conventional weaponry…….. https://www.thenation.com/article/whos-really-driving-nuclear-weapons-production/

Evidence that Britain’s nuclear power industry subsidises nuclear weapons

March 31, 2018

channelling revenues ultimately funded by electricity consumers towards a joint civil-military national nuclear industry base

Evidence from Andy Stirling and Philip Johnstone: As the early part of the process of the BEIS Committee Brexit Inquiry has unfolded, the salience of this civil/military link is being further underscored in statements in which a number of relevant senior civil servants and ministers are confirming that the priority attached to UK military submarine capabilities is deeply entangled in strategic commitments to civil nuclear industry strategy 6 . Several possibly serious implications therefore arise in relation to the particular circumstances of Brexit.

Parliament 27th Oct 2017  http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/business-energy-and-industrial-strategy-committee/leaving-the-eu-implications-for-the-nuclear-industry/written/71514.pdf

Written evidence from the University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit (BRN0015)

  1. We submit this evidence to the inquiry on Brexit and the Implications for UK Business.s. The content draws on a detailed submission by the same authors to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), discussed at the PAC witness session on Monday 9 th October 2017, which informed illuminating exchanges with senior civil service witnesses to that Committee and was subsequently published by PAC 1 . A number of potentially important implications arise in relation to issues under discussion around Brexit.

2: This earlier evidence to PAC addressed the otherwise difficult-to-explain intensity of Government commitments to civil nuclear power in the face of growing recognition of the relative competitiveness of alternative UK low carbon energy investments. Multiple grounds were found for inferring that this persistent Government attachment is due, at least in part (and with no public discussion), to perceived needs to engineer a cross-subsidy from electricity consumers to help cover costs of a national nuclear industrial base that is deemed to be essential for maintaining UK military nuclear infrastructures 2 .

 

3: The issues that arise are central to the general remit of the BEIS Committee. For instance, this recent evidence to the PAC documents significant statements by the National Audit Office, which suggest that UK military nuclear infrastructures are being bolstered by revenue flows to UK industry strategy in other sectors 3 . Many statements in support of this interpretation are cited from defence policy discussions, acknowledging incentives to “mask” costs of military industrial strategy behind civil energy programmes 4 . As a result, it is evident that Government-negotiated, high-price, guaranteed long-term contracts for civil nuclear power, are channelling revenues ultimately funded by electricity consumers towards a joint civil-military national nuclear industry base, whose full costs probably could not otherwise feasibly be covered by defence budgets alone. Resulting implications for wider industry strategy and energy policy have received effectively zero Parliamentary or other policy scrutiny.

 

4: Much other evidence was presented in submission to PAC, concerning this evidently significant-buthidden influence on civil industry policy by military nuclear considerations 5 . As a result, it seems that undetermined but likely large cross-subsidies are being engineered from UK electricity consumers, in order to cover otherwise insupportable costs of military nuclear industry strategies. In the present evidence we outline key implications for the BEIS Committee inquiry on nuclear implications of Brexit

 

5: As the early part of the process of the BEIS Committee Brexit Inquiry has unfolded, the salience of this civil/military link is being further underscored in statements in which a number of relevant senior civil servants and ministers are confirming that the priority attached to UK military submarine capabilities is deeply entangled in strategic commitments to civil nuclear industry strategy 6 . Several possibly serious implications therefore arise in relation to the particular circumstances of Brexit.

 

6: First, there are well-documented general concerns that Brexit-related pressures on the UK industrial base are likely to have a particular impact on large infrastructure projects, specifically including new nuclear build. If these developments unfold, then pressures are likely to intensify around the interlinkages between UK civil and military nuclear infrastructures. With foregone opportunities for industry strategy in other sectors (like offshore wind), the these Brexit-related implications for UK industrial strategy are central issues for the BEIS Committee, which remain unexplored elsewhere 7 .

 

7: Second, there are concerns that the economic effects of Brexit may include current and possible continuing future depreciation of Sterling. If these effects transpire as variously predicted, then economic pressures will likely intensify to find ways to cross-subsidise growing military nuclear costs in some fashion that mitigates the impact on public spending. Brexit may thus exacerbate incentives to ‘mask’ otherwise-unbearable wider industrial costs of military nuclear submarine infrastructures behind strategic support for civil nuclear supply chains ultimately funded by electricity consumers 8 .

8: Third, there are prospects that demand for UK access to overseas specialist nuclear skills may be aggravated by Brexit-related constraints on labour movement. If this occurs, then competition can be expected to accentuate between recruitment needs for national civil and military nuclear industries. Since key military nuclear skills in particular must for obvious reasons be disproportionately UKbased, so Brexit may reinforce upward pressures on costs of military nuclear infrastructures and so help further increase the pressures for cross-subsidy documented in the earlier PAC evidence 9

9: Fourth, there is the likely effect of Brexit in reinforcing pressures towards Scottish independence. If this transpires, then strong opposition in Scotland to continued associations with the current UK nuclear weapons infrastructure, mean that Brexit will make it more probable that a move will be required of key military nuclear facilities away from Scotland. The result will be a very large Brexitrelated increase in military nuclear costs, further exacerbating pressures for cross-subsidies 10 . 10: We hope it is useful to draw these emerging issues to the attention of the BEIS Committee – both in relation to the above specific repercussions around Brexit and to their wider implications for UK energy strategies, industrial policy and more general qualities of national democratic accountability 11 . October 2017

Extensive references are given on the original document .

 

The financial institutions that provided $344 billion available to 27 nuclear weapon producing companies

July 24, 2017

Don’t Bank On The Bomb  Dec 2016 Briefing Paper.

United States 226 Financial Institutions made an estimated USD$ 344 billion available to 27 nuclear weapon producing companies since January 2013.

 Introduction This document contains country specific information from the 2016 Don’t Bank on the Bomb update. Hall of Fame and Runners-up include financial institutions with headquarters in the country that have published policies banning or limiting investment in nuclear weapons producers. Hall of Shame are the financial institutions that have significant financing relationships with one or more of the nuclear weapons producers identified in the report. There is also a brief summary of the nuclear weapons related work of each of the identified producers. For more detail, see the full report or go to the www.DontBankOnTheBomb.com website.

This briefing paper includes:

Introduction..………………………………………………………………….

1 Hall of Shame, lists 266 organisations ………………………………………………….

Nuclear weapon producing Companies 

The financial institutions identified include banks, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and asset managers. They have provided various types of financial services to nuclear weapon companies including loans, investment banking and asset management.

All sources of financing provided since 1 January 2013 to the companies listed were analysed from annual reports, financial databases and other sources. The financial institutions which are most significantly involved in the financing of one or more nuclear weapon companies are shown here. See the full report for both a summary and full description of all financial institutions which are found to have the most significant financing relationships with one or more of the selected nuclear weapon companies, by means of participating in bank loans, by underwriting share or bond issues and/or by share- or bondholdings (above a threshold of 0.5% of all outstanding shares or bonds).

Figures presented are rounded up/down to the nearest dollar at the filing date. Commas (,) indicate thousands separators while periods (.) used as decimal points. For more information on loans, investment banking, and asset management, please refer to the website.

Hall of Shame

This section contains the results of our research into which financial institutions are financially involved with the nuclear weapon producing companies identified in the report. For the full methodology, see the website.

 

Each section provides the following information for each financial institution:

  • The types of financial relations which the financial institution has with one or more nuclear weapon companies (loans, investment banking and asset management).

 

Financial institution.    Amount in USD millions ……… [ list covers 5 pages] …….

 

 1.Academy Securities (United States) Academy Securities (United States) has made an estimated US$ 30 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Academy Securities (United States) underwrote bond issuances for an estimated amount of US$ 30 million to the nuclear weapon companies since January 2013 (see table below [on original] ). ..

  1. Adage Capital Management (United States) Adage Capital Management (United States) has made an estimated US$ 482 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Adage Capital Management (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 482 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table on original]
  2. Affiliated Managers Group (United States) Affiliated Managers Group (United States) has made an estimated US$ 1,426 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

 

  1. Affiliated Managers Group (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 1,426 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table on original]

 

  1. AJO (United States) AJO (United States) has made an estimated US$ 351 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

AJO (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 351 million (see table below). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.  [table]

 

 6 Alyeska Investment Group (United States) Alyeska Investment Group (United States) has made an estimated US$ 143 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013.

 

Alyeska Investment Group (United States) owns or manages shares of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 143 million (see table below, on original). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding shares at the most recent available filing date are included.

 

  1. Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) has made an estimated US$ 29 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (United States) provided loans for an estimated amount of US$ 29 million to the nuclear weapon companies (see table below on original ). The table shows all loans closed since January 2013 or maturing after August 2016

 

  1. American Automobile Association (United States) American Automobile Association (United States) has made an estimated US$ 4 million available to the nuclear weapons companies selected for this research project since January 2013. American Automobile Association (United States) owns or manages bonds of the nuclear weapon companies for an amount of US$ 4 million (see table below, on original). Only holdings of 0.50% or more of the outstanding bonds at the most recent available filing date are included.

 

  1. American Century Investments (United States) ……
  2. American Equity Investment Life Holding (United States)  …….
  3. American Family (United States) ……
  4. American Financial Group (United States)……
  5. American Financial Group (United States)………
  6. American National Insurance (United States)
  7. American United Mutual Insurance (United States)
  8. Ameriprise Financial (United States)
  9. Analytic Investors (United States)
  10. Anchor Bolt Capital (United States)
  11. Anthem (United States)
  12. Apto Partners (United States)
  13. AQR Capital Management (United States)
  14. Aristotle Capital Management (United States)
  15. Arrowstreet Capital (United States)
  16. Artisan Partners (United States)
  17. Associated Banc-Corp (United States)
  18. Assurant (United States)
  19. Auto-Owners Insurance (United States)
  20. Baird (United States)
  21. BancPlus (United States)
  22. Bank of America (United States) – funds a staggering number of weapons makers……
  23. Bank of New York Mellon (United States)
  24. Banner Bank (United States)
  25. BB&T (United States)
  26. Beck, Mack & Oliver (United States)
  27. Becker Capital Management (United States)
  28. Bessemer Group (United States)
  29. BlackRock (United States)
  30. Blaylock Beal Van (United States)
  31. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (United States)
  32. Blue Harbour Group (United States)
  33. Boston Private (United States)
  34. Cacti Asset Management (United States)
  35. California First National Bancorp (United States)
  36. Cantor Fitzgerald (United States)
  37. Capital Group (United States)
  38. Capital One Financial (United States)
  39. Carlson Capital (United States)
  40. Carlyle Group (United States)
  41. Cascade Bancorp (United States)
  42. CastleOak Securities (United States)
  43. CAVU Securities (United States)
  44. Central Mutual Insurance (United States)
  45. Central Pacific Financial Corporation (United States)
  46. Charles Schwab (United States)
  47. Chesapeake Partners Management (United States)
  48. Cigna (United States)
  49. Citadel (United States)
  50. Citigroup (United States) – huge no of weapons makers funded
  51. Citizens Bank & Trust (United States)
  52. Citizens Financial Group (United States)
  53. City National Corporation (United States)
  54. CL King & Associates (United States)
  55. CNO Financial Group (United States
  56. Comerica (United States)
  57. Cooper Creek Partners Management (United States)
  58. Corsair Capital Management (United States)
  59. Cuna Mutual Group (United States)
  60. D.E. Shaw & Co. (United States)
  61. Dimensional Fund Advisors (United States)

 

and so on………… to No. 226. Zeo Capital Advisors (United States)

 

Nuclear weapon producing Companies This report identifies 27 companies operating in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that are significantly involved in maintaining and modernising the nuclear arsenals of France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is not an exhaustive list. These companies are providing necessary components and infrastructure to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons. The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.  –   report goes on to list companies and their activities. …….

Naming the companies that make the nuclear arsenals

July 24, 2017

Don’t Bank On The Bomb  Dec 2016 Briefing Paper.

“…….Nuclear weapon producing Companies

This report identifies 27 companies operating in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States that are significantly involved in maintaining and modernising the nuclear arsenals of France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is not an exhaustive list. These companies are providing necessary components and infrastructure to develop, test, maintain and modernise nuclear weapons. The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.

Aecom (USA) Aecom provides professional technical and management support services and is part of joint ventures that manages the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, as well as Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), key fixtures in the US nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Aerojet Rocketdyne (USA) Aerojet Rocketdyne, formerly known as GenCorp is involved in the design, development and production of land- and sea-based nuclear ballistic missile systems for the United States. It is currently producing propulsion systems for Minuteman III and D5 Trident nuclear missiles.

Airbus Group (The Netherlands) Airbus is a Dutch company that produces and maintains the M51.2 submarine-launched nuclear missiles for the French navy, it is also developing the M51.3. Through joint venture MBDA-Systems, Airbus is also providing medium-range air-to-surface missiles to the French air force.

BAE Systems (United Kingdom) BAE Systems is involved in the US and UK Trident II (D5) strategic weapons system programmes. It is also the prime contractor for the US Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system. BAE Systems is also part of the joint venture providing medium-range air-to-surface missiles for France.

 Bechtel (USA) Bechtel manages the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories in the US, which play an important role in the research, design, development and production of nuclear weapons. It also leads the joint venture for management and operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas.

Boeing (USA) Boeing is involved in the Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles in the US arsenal. It also provides the US and UK Trident II (D5) with maintenance, repair, and rebuilding and technical services.

BWX Technologies (USA) BWX Technologies (“BWXT”) formerly known as Babcock & Wilcox Company Babcock & Wilcox manages and through joint ventures operates several US nuclear weapons facilities including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, each of which are engaged in various aspects of nuclear warhead modernisation.

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (USA) Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (“Draper”) is the prime contractor for the Trident Life Extension (LE) boost guidance and is manufacturing the guidance system for the Trident missile system in use by the UK and the US.

CH2M Hill (USA) CH2M Hill is one of the joint venture partners in National Security Technologies (NSTec) that manages the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), previously known as the Nevada Test Site, a key fixture in the US nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Engility Holdings (USA) In February 2015, Engility acquired US-based TASC. It is involved in the research and development for the Solid Rocket Motor Modernization Study of the Minuteman III system for the US arsenal.

Fluor (USA) Fluor is the lead partner responsible for the management and operation of the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site and Savannah River National Laboratory, the only source of new tritium for the US nuclear arsenal.

General Dynamics (USA) General Dynamics provides a range of engineering, development, and production activities to support to US and UK Trident II Strategic Weapons Systems. It is also involved in the guidance systems of the Trident II (D5) nuclear missiles of the US Navy…

Prolonged slump in uranium prices makes Cameco a poor investment

July 24, 2017

it is highly unlikely that its financial performance will improve drastically, making it an unappealing investment.

Don’t Try to Catch This Falling Knife   https://www.fool.ca/2017/06/01/dont-try-to-catch-this-falling-knife/  Matt Smith | June 1, 2017 The world?s second-largest uranium producer Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO)(NYSE:CCJ) continues to suffer, posting a first-quarter 2017 net loss which dragged its stock lower; it’s almost 13% down for the year to date. This has attracted the usual bargain hunters who believe that Cameco is now an appealing, undervalued investment but this couldn?t be further from the truth.  

Now what?

Cameco?s woes can be directly attributed to the prolonged slump in uranium which has lasted for longer than a decade; prices fell to a 13-year low late last year. The embattled uranium miner posted a first-quarter adjusted net loss of $29 million. According to some analysts, wind power is now cheaper than nuclear power, while solar and geothermal electricity generation can have lower costs. These forms of power generation don’t produce highly toxic waste or the potential to create catastrophic environmental damage in the event of failure.

For these reasons, it is difficult to see a huge upswing in demand for uranium over coming years, especially with renewables technology advancing at a rapid rate. This means that Cameco may find itself in the position where it is producing a product that is suffering from a terminal decline in demand. Worse yet, uranium prices remain under pressure because of high global inventories and a growing supply which is expected to expand by over 40% to reach 80,383 tonnes by 2020.

Cameco’s woes can be directly attributed to the prolonged slump in uranium which has lasted for longer than a decade; prices fell to a 13-year low late last year. The embattled uranium miner posted a first-quarter adjusted net loss of $29 million, which was 3.5 times greater than the net loss reported for the same quarter in 2016 and that predicted by analysts.

A key reason for the massive net loss was the decision by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of Japan’s disabled Fukushima nuclear plant, to terminate its contract with Cameco for the supply of 9.3 million pounds of uranium through to 2028. The contract was worth $1.3 billion in revenue.

Nonetheless, Cameco has pitched its hopes on a surge in demand for uranium as the 57 reactors currently under construction across the globe come online. While there won’t be an immediate ramp-up in demandaccording to industry consultants, it will lead to cumulative uncovered requirements for uranium to total around 800 million pounds of the fissile material over the next nine years.

This may be a positive for company that has been battling significant headwinds for some time, but it does not necessarily guarantee a return to profitability.

You see, nuclear power has been falling into disfavour for some time, and this only gained momentum in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. While nuclear plants do not emit pollutants, there are the serious issues associated with the leakage of radiation and the disposal of fissile waste.

Radiation can have a catastrophic impact on the environment, animals, and humans. High-level nuclear waste such as a spent fuel assembly, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, produces 20 times the fatal dose of radiation for humans for 10 years after being removed from a reactor.

This makes the correct handling and storage of this waste essential, costly, and highly onerous.

The Fukushima disaster highlighted just how vulnerable nuclear plants can be to environmental catastrophes, although, fortunately, there was no leakage of fissile material or polluted water in that case.

However, these aren’t the only reasons for the growing unpopularity of nuclear power.

The cost of safer forms of renewable energy continues to fall.

According to some analysts, wind power is now cheaper than nuclear power, while solar and geothermal electricity generation can have lower costs. These forms of power generation don’t produce highly toxic waste or the potential to create catastrophic environmental damage in the event of failure.

For these reasons, it is difficult to see a huge upswing in demand for uranium over coming years, especially with renewables technology advancing at a rapid rate. This means that Cameco may find itself in the position where it is producing a product that is suffering from a terminal decline in demand. Worse yet, uranium prices remain under pressure because of high global inventories and a growing supply which is expected to expand by over 40% to reach 80,383 tonnes by 2020.

So what?

The loss of the Tokyo Electric Power Company contract is a major blow for Cameco, costing it around $1.3 billion in revenue in what is already a difficult operating environment. When considered with the growing unpopularity of nuclear power, the inexorable advance of renewable energy, and growing uranium supplies, it is difficult to see any significant bounce in the price of uranium occurring.

This makes difficult to see Cameco ever returning the halcyon days when uranium traded at US$67 per pound, meaning that it is highly unlikely that its financial performance will improve drastically, making it an unappealing investment.

America’s big budget blowout – nuclear weapons

May 18, 2017

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016….Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

Where Your Dollars Are Going: Why Some Antiwar Activists Are Withholding Taxes, April 18, 2017, By Lindsay KoshgarianTruthout | News Analysis Among the marches, petitions and call-in campaigns that comprise much of the Trump resistance movement, one resistance tactic gets little attention: withholding taxes. As the US seems ready to slide into yet another Middle East war in Syria while preparing for massive cuts to government programs at home, what role does tax resistance play in opposing regressive and violent policies?

While being anti-tax is typically associated with conservatism, there is a small but longstanding tradition within the progressive movement of withholding taxes — specifically, war taxes.

How does tax resistance work, and does it result in a lack of support for government programs that most progressives support and would like to see grow? How much of our taxes go to war, the military and militarism anyway, and how much to worthy programs like education, aid for struggling families, the environment and more?

Paying income taxes may not usually spur introspection, but it might if Americans realized that, for example, they are working 27 days out of every year to pay taxes that support war profiteers. Most progressives and many on the right of the political spectrum would never willingly write a check to weapons contractors, or speak in support of weapons systems that will fuel tomorrow’s air strikes and drone attacks. If Lockheed Martin, the nation’s most prolific military contractor, were a store or coffee shop, many would boycott it. So why willingly give Lockheed $170 a year through taxes — which the average taxpayer now does?

Pride and Prejudice: How the Government Helps (and How Americans Pay for It) The extent to which government helps those who need it most and strengthens every community is certainly underappreciated in a country obsessed with “small government,” a nation that reveres former President Ronald Reagan, who once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Of course, the government does help. More than half of almost every group of Americans — from every region of the country, white, Black, Latino, rural, urban, conservative, liberal — have benefited at some point in their lives from government programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and welfare. Government programs are often targeted to help those most in need of aid or those historically oppressed. Half of the students who receive Pell grants for college tuition come from families with incomes below $15,223, and 77 percent of them would be the first generation of their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. Nearly one in four Pell recipients is Black. Meanwhile, programs like Meals on Wheels for seniors are almost universally beloved and respected for taking care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The federal government serves as a crucial source of support for many………

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget

On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined; the one that has increased its spending on federal prisons by 10 times over the last 40 years — the government that seeks to consolidate power and exert control over the world’s most vulnerable people.

The US government promotes an extreme overreliance on military might and a disturbing parallel of policing, incarceration, surveillance and immigration raids and deportations here at home. A recent National Priorities Project analysis of the US discretionary budget showed that 64 percent of the federal discretionary budget — the budget decided by Congress each year, which is covered almost entirely by income taxes — is devoted to the military and militarism: to making and preparing for war, dealing with the consequences of war, and to programs that amount to intimidation and oppression here at home.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military — and if you count spending on veterans’ benefits, national debt due to past wars, or other militarized spending like that for the FBI, federal prisons or immigration enforcement, the estimates only go higher. In addition to paying an average of $3,290 in yearly income taxes for the traditional military, Americans each pay $88 for border control and immigration and customs enforcement, $33 for the federal prison system, and more for programs ranging from the FBI to the CIA and beyond.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources. Lockheed used those taxpayer dollars to pay its CEO more than $19 million in 2015. Taxpayers contributed six times as much to this one weapons maker as they did to all foreign aid in 2016. This should give us pause when we consider how often the US turns to military intervention versus prevention, diplomacy or other means during international crises.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016 — more than half of the department’s budget.

Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

An Act of Resistance

So, how does it all balance out? Does the government help more than it harms? Is there a way to support the good while resisting the bad?

This is what some war tax resisters attempt to do. In practice, resisting war tax runs the gamut from not paying any taxes at all to withholding a token amount of tax — as low as a few dollars — as a way of registering resistance. For those who want to support the government in its helping capacities, or who want to see those capacities grow, the second may be the better option.

Clearly, resisting taxes is not for everyone — it can come with legal penalties, headaches and a good deal of uncertainty. And of course, war tax resisting is not the only way to influence how your tax dollars are used: calling, visiting or writing your representatives in government; voting; and engaging in street protests play key roles in resisting war and militarism. Still, we are in the midst of a big resistance, and for some, resisting tax may be just what the doctor ordered. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40248-where-your-dollars-are-going-why-some-anti-war-activists-are-withholding-taxes

The Pentagon managed to lose 10 $trillion

May 18, 2017

$10 Trillion Missing From Pentagon And No One — Not Even The DoD — Knows Where It Is http://www.activistpost.com/2017/03/10-trillion-missing-pentagon-no-one-not-even-dod-knows.htmlMARCH 27, 2017, BY CLAIRE BERNISH

Over a mere two decades, the Pentagon lost track of a mind-numbing $10 trillion — that’s trillion, with a fat, taxpayer-funded “T” — and no one, not even the Department of Defense, knows where it went or on what it was spent.

Even though audits of all federal agencies became mandatory in 1996, the Pentagon has apparently made itself an exception, and — fully 20 years later — stands obstinately orotund in never having complied.

Because, as defense officials insist — summoning their best impudent adolescent — an audit would take too long and, unironically, cost too much.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” Rafael DeGennaro, director of Audit the Pentagontold The Guardianrecently. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.”

Worse, President Trump’s newly-proposed budget seeks to toss an additional $54 billion into the evidently bottomless pit that is the U.S. military  — more for interventionist policy, more for resource-plundering, more for proxy fighting, and, of course, more for jets and drones to drop more bombs suspiciously often on civilians.

Maybe.

Because, without the mandated audit, the DoD could be purchasing damned near anything, at any cost, and use, or give, it — to anyone, for any reason.

Officials with the Government Accountability Office and Office of the Inspector General have catalogued egregious financial disparities at the Pentagon for years — yet the Defense Department grouses the cost and energy necessary to perform an audit in compliance with the law makes it untenable.

Astonishingly, the Pentagon’s own watchdog tacitly approves this technically-illegal workaround — and the legally-gray and, yes, literally, on-the-books-corrupt practices in tandem — to what would incontrovertibly be a most unpleasant audit, indeed.

Take the following of myriad examples, called “plugging,” for which Pentagon bookkeepers are not only encouraged to conjure figures from thin air, but, in many cases, they would be physically and administratively incapable of performing the job without doing so — without ever having faced consequences for this brazen cooking of books.

To wit, Reuters reported the results of an investigation into Defense’s magical number-crunching — well over three years ago, on November 18, 2013 — detailing the illicit tasks of 15-year employee, “Linda Woodford [who] spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.”

Woodford, who has since retired, and others like her, act as individual pieces in the amassing chewed gum only appearing to plug a damning mishandling of funds pilfered from the American people to fund wars overseas for resources in the name of U.S. defense.

“Every month until she retired in 2011,” Scot J. Paltrow wrote for Reuters, “she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

“And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. ‘A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,’ Woodford says. ‘We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.’”

Where a number of disparities could be corrected through hurried communications, a great deal — thousands each month, for each person on the task — required fictitious figures. Murkily deemed, “unsubstantiated change actions” — tersely termed, “plugs” — this artificial fix forcing records into an unnatural alignment is common practice at the Pentagon.

Beyond bogus books, the Pentagon likely flushed that $10 trillion in taxes down the toilet of inanity that is unchecked purchasing by inept staff who must be devoid of prior experience in the field of defense.

This tax robbery would eclipse the palatability of blood money — if it weren’t also being wasted on items such as the 7,437 extraneous Humvee front suspensions — purchased in surplus over the inexplicable 14-year supply of 15,000 unnecessary Humvee front suspensions already gathering warehouse-shelf dust.

And there are three items of note on this particular example, of many:

One, the U.S. Department of Defense considers inventory surpassing a three-year supply, “excessive.”

Two, the stupefying additional seven-thousand-something front suspensions arrived, as ordered, during a period of demand reduced by half.

Three, scores of additional items — mostly unaccounted for in inventory — sit untouched and aging in storage, growing not only incapable of being used, but too dangerous to be properly disposed of safely.

Worse, contractors greedily sink hands into lucrative contracts — with all the same supply-based waste at every level, from the abject disaster that is the $1 trillion F-35 fighter program, to the $8,123.50 shelled out for Bell Helicopter Textron helicopter gears with a price tag of $445.06, to the DoD settlement with Boeing for overcharges of a whopping $13.7 million.

The latter included a charge to the Pentagon of $2,286 — spent for an aluminum pin ordinarily costing just $10.

Considering all the cooking of numbers apparently fueled with burning money stateside, you would think Defense channeled its efforts into becoming a paragon of economic efficiency when the military defends the United States. Overseas. From terrorism. And from terrorists. And terrorist-supporting nations.

But this is the Pentagon — and a trickle of telling headlines regularly grace the news, each evincing yet another missing shipment of weapons, unknown allocation of funds, or retrieval of various U.S.-made arms and munitions by some terrorist group deemed politically less acceptable than others by officials naming pawns.

In fact, so many American weapons and supplies lost by the DoD and CIA become the property of actual terrorists — who then use them sadistically against civilians and strategically against our proxies and theirs — it would be negligent not to describe the phenomenon as pattern, whether or not intent exists behind it.

Since practically the moment of nationalist President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the ceaselessly belligerent of the military-industrial machine have been granted a new head cheerleader with a bullhorn so powerful as to render calls to apply the brakes effectively, if not unpatriotically, moot.

Sans any optimistic indication thus far lacking from the Trump administration it would reverse course and move toward, rather than against, transparency, the painstaking audit imperative to DoD accountability remains only a theory — while the Pentagon’s $10 trillion sits as the world’s largest elephant in apathetic America’s living room.

For now, we know generally where our money is going: war. Which aspect of war — compared to the power of your outrage about its callous and reckless execution in your name — matters little.

Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.

Stagnation: the global nuclear industry

May 18, 2017

Countries with crisis-ridden nuclear programs or phase-out policies (e.g. Germany, Belgium, and Taiwan) account for about half of the world’s operable reactors and more than half of worldwide nuclear power generation

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion

By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017, Nuclear lobbyists are abandoning the tiresome rhetoric about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’. Indeed they’ve turned full-circle and are now warning about a crisis. Michael Shellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute, a US-based pro-nuclear lobby group, has recently written articles about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and the “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.A recent articlefrom the Breakthrough Institute and the like-minded Third Way lobby group discusses “the crisis that the nuclear industry is presently facing in developed countries” and states that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies”.

‘Environmental Progress’, another US pro-nuclear lobby group connected to Shellenberger, also acknowledges a nuclear power crisis. The lobby group notes that 151 gigawatts (GW) of worldwide nuclear power capacity (38% of the total) could be lost by 2030 (compared to 33 GW of retirements over the past decade).

As a worldwide generalisation, nuclear power can’t be said to be in crisis. To take the extreme example, China’s nuclear power program isn’t in crisis ‒ it is moving ahead at pace. Nuclear power is moving ahead at snail’s pace in some other countries (e.g. Russia, South Korea), while in others the industry faces problems but is not in crisis (e.g. UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Ukraine).

Nonetheless, the global picture is one of stagnation and malaise. The July 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report provides an overview of the troubled status of nuclear power: (more…)