Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Myanmar holds significant strategic importance for India....

Myanmar holds significant strategic importance for India....
India-Myanmar: a half-built gateway....By Bertil Lintner

US-Myanmar: Engagement as nuclear pre-emption....

IMPHAL, Manipur - When a group of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ambassadors last year traveled the road from Imphal, in eastern India, to Moreh on the Myanmar border, the trip was officially arranged to show the diplomats India's emerging land bridge to Southeast Asia. Although the envoys enthused about the land link's trade possibilities, it was hard to determine how genuinely impressed they were after hours of bumping along on the 100-kilometer, pot-holed, windy road.

Yet the torturous road reaching to Myanmar is a vital link in India's business-driven "Look East" policy, a gambit aimed at expanding the South Asian country's trade, investment and influence to the

east. For that policy to succeed, however, New Delhi needs not only to upgrade the way leading to its border, but also the highways to and from Assam in northeastern India, the country's geographical gateway to Southeast Asia. Roads and infrastructure on the Myanmar side are comparatively even more decrepit.

Before Indian policymakers can build a proper highway connecting the country through Myanmar and to mainland Southeast Asia, a lasting solution must be found to the ethnic insurgencies and other security problems in its northeastern hinterlands. Local ethnic insurgents frequently collect "taxes" on trucks and other vehicles plying not only the road to Moreh, but also on most major highways in Manipur, one of northeast India's seven states.

To India's chagrin, many of those rebels - ethnic Nagas, Manipuris and Kukis - maintain sanctuaries in remote areas on the Myanmar side of the border, beyond the reach of Indian security forces. These rebel forces are also known to have obtained weapons from various clandestine sources on the Sino-Myanmar border. Some of these weapons originate in China while others are made in secret gun factories in areas in northeastern Myanmar not controlled by the central government at Naypyidaw.

Despite these difficulties and the pitiful condition of the Moreh road, trade between India and Myanmar is booming. Before 1988, apart from smuggling activities, there was scant commercial activity along the two countries' shared border. Bilateral trade more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, expanding from US$557 million to $1.2 billion. Myanmar ships mainly agricultural goods and natural resources, while India exports chiefly machinery, industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. India-Myanmar trade is beginning to rival that of the booming cross-border trade between China and Myanmar, which has been brisk for almost two decades.

At the same time, it is clear that India is still lagging far behind China when it comes to accessing Myanmar's markets and mineral resources. In 2010, trade between Myanmar and China amounted to at least $3 billion, with some economic analysts putting the figure as high as $4 billion. Some of that trade passes through Myanmar to India, witnessed in the flood of Chinese-made goods in India's northeastern region. The Paona International Market in Imphal, popularly referred to as the "Moreh market" or "Myanmar market", is flush with Chinese-produced electronics, clothes, bags, household utensils and other cheap manufactures.

Pragmatic policy shift
Immediately after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar, India sympathized with the Aung San Suu Kyi-led opposition. Rajiv Gandhi, India's prime minister at the time, came out in open support of the movement, and New Delhi implemented policies that gave shelter to Myanmar refugees and allowed dissidents to operate freely from Indian territory. This, of course, was not for entirely altruistic reasons: the policy was viewed widely as India's way of countering China's influence in Myanmar.

India began to re-evaluate that strategy around 1993, out of concern that its policies had achieved little except to push Myanmar closer to Beijing. Even then it was obvious to policymakers that the Suu Kyi-led opposition would not assume power anytime soon. The result was a dramatic shift in policy aimed at patching up relations with Myanmar's ruling generals. In turn, Myanmar signaled to India to take greater interest in improving bilateral relations to lessen its heavy dependence on China.

India's interests in Myanmar are obvious. Apart from serving as a link to lucrative markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia, New Delhi wants to ensure that northeastern insurgents are deprived of sanctuaries and supply lines through its eastern neighbor - and to keep Chinese influence there at bay. India's rapidly expanding economy also needs energy, and New Delhi has shown strong interest in importing more oil and gas from Myanmar.

India also has plans to build a 1,200 megawatt hydroelectric power station on the Chindwin River, across from India's northeastern region, and is involved in several other infrastructure projects inside Myanmar, including major road construction projects. In short, India is busy opening its west-east corridor through Myanmar to protect its own economic as well as strategic interests.

To open the way, India has taken a number of initiatives to rid its rebellious states in the northeast - Assam, Nagaland and Manipur - of insurgents and establish permanent peace in the region. That task was made easier when Sheikh Hasina's pro-Indian Awami League government took over in Bangladesh in December 2008. Her predecessor, Khaleda Zia and the Bangladesh National Party, provided sanctuaries for insurgents who moved about freely in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, where Indian rebel groups had received many illicit shipments of arms.

In late November 2009, Bangladesh arrested United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and its deputy commander-in-chief Raju Barua along with eight other Assamese militants and handed them over to India. In September 2010, Rajkumar Meghen, better known as Sana Yaima, the leader of Manipur's United National Liberation Front, was arrested in Dhaka and bundled off to India. At about the same time, the main arms procurer of the Naga rebels and a frequent visitor to China, Anthony Shimray, was arrested at Kathmandu airport in Nepal and ended up in Indian custody.

While these arrests have been significant from a strategic perspective, India knows that simply detaining ethnic insurgent leaders won't be enough to achieve peace in the restive region. There are also widespread grievances among the local population that will need to be addressed before there is lasting peace and stability along India's Myanmar frontier.

New Delhi's Myanmar policy and its anti-China aspect are even clearer in the Indian Ocean. China now imports most of its oil and gas from Central Asia and the Middle East and made it clear several years ago that it intended to build a pipeline through Myanmar to avoid the clogged and potentially volatile Strait of Malacca bottleneck for its fuel transhipments.

For this purpose, and to import natural gas from the fields in the sea south of Myanmar, Beijing and Naypyidaw signed an agreement in March 2009 to also build a natural gas pipeline extending across Myanmar to China's southwestern Yunnan province. Those projects are well underway: piles of pipes can now be seen at the Jiegao border crossing between China and Myanmar, and at various sites along the highway to Kunming, Yunnan's capital.

Building such a conduit for crucial energy supplies in a foreign country would be risky without substantial political influence and an extensive signals intelligence network in the Indian Ocean sea lanes where the fuel is transported. China has large stores of both through its ties to Myanmar.

India has not taken lightly the prospect of another major player in a maritime area that it considers its own lake. This concern provides a new aspect to the age-old strategic rivalry between India and China - and another reason for India to counter China's influence over Myanmar.

New great game
Not surprisingly, the US's Barack Obama administration has expressed its support for India's "Look East" policy. On November 23, US deputy national security advisor for strategic communication Ben Rhodes said: "The President very much welcomes India's Look East approach. We believe that just as the United States, as a Pacific Ocean power, is going to be deeply engaged in the future of East Asia, so should India as an Indian Ocean power and as an Asian nation."

In January, a US naval ship visited India's Andaman Islands to conduct search and rescue operations, shipwreck salvaging and naval vessel repair exercises with their Indian counterparts. The commander of the US vessel, Derek Peterson, "lauded the cooperation" of the Indian Navy and said he was impressed with its capabilities.

That strategic exchange followed on a March 2010 visit by the USS Patriot at Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The news site of the Commander of the US 7th Fleet reported from that US naval visit that "Patriot Sailors will train with the Indian Navy; special emphasis will be put on damage-control and mine countermeasures training."

The official report also quoted Douglas Woods, one of the ship's officers, saying: "First day we pull in we got a flag football game with the Indian navy and a soccer game with the Indian navy. We also have cricket lessons for all personnel that want to go out and participate in. Indian navy personnel will provide the lessons."

Indian naval officers interviewed in Port Blair by this correspondent in January said there was nothing more to the US naval visit than basic joint training exercises. But it is hard to imagine that routine exercises were the main purpose of the US naval visits. Myanmar - and even more so China - likely watched the US-Indian naval cooperation with some trepidation.

Both Myanmar and China know that India's military has upgraded its presence on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in a bid to meet new challenges in the maritime region and to safeguard its own interests in Southeast Asia and the Malacca Strait. To be sure, there were more important issues of concern for India and the US than diving for sunken ships and teaching American sailors how to play cricket.

That said, the more recent anti-Chinese stance taken by Myanmar's new government should be music to the ears of India's security planners. India rolled out the red carpet for Myanmar President Thein Sein when he arrived in New Delhi on a three-day state visit on October 14, adding to speculation that Myanmar aims to reduce its heavy dependence on China and make more room for India. In a joint statement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed Thein Sein's "ongoing efforts at political, economic and social reform."

In the 19th century, Arthur Conolly, an intelligence officer of the British colonial army, coined the expression "the Great Game" to describe the strategic rivalry between the then British and Russian Empires for supremacy in Central Asia. More than any other objective in the competition, the Russians sought access to the Indian Ocean.

Another "Great Game" involving India, China and the US is now playing out in Asia on the eastern fringes of the Indian subcontinent. But before the regional balance of power tilts away from China and towards India, the potholes on the road to Moreh will have to be smoothed out. Only then can China's grip on Myanmar be challenged and India able to link up more directly and strategically with Southeast Asia.

Bertil Lintner is a former correspondent with the Far Eastern Economic Review and author of several books on Burma/Myanmar, including the forthcoming Great Game East: India, China and the Struggle for Asia's Most Volatile Frontier.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The legend of Gondwana resurfaces....

The legend of Gondwana resurfaces....By Raja Murthy

MUMBAI - Remains of the lost supercontinent of Gondwana surfaced again last week, with Australian scientists discovering bits of this gigantic land mass that once linked Asia and India with Australia and Antarctica.

Sydney University geophysicist Jo Whittaker said this "exciting discovery" could reveal how the supercontinent of Gondwana broke into present-day Australia, Antarctica and India between 60 and 130 million years ago. At that time, called the Cretaceous period, the dinosaurs were lords of the Earth roaming across a mammoth mass of land that may have connected where Tokyo, Perth, Kolkata and other Asia-Pacific cities now stand.

How different could have been the histories of India, Japan and the world if the continent of Gondwanaland had not splintered into pieces in the Indian Ocean? That all phenomena are in a constant flux of change, and that whatever happens has positive outcomes and silver linings, is truth applicable to supercontinents too.

Geologists say an even bigger monster land mass called Pangaea existed over 200 million years ago, surrounded by one universal ocean called Panthalassa. The northern half of Pangaea was the other supercontinent called Laurasia. Gondwana was the southern supercontinent.

Scientists from Sydney University, Macquarie University, University of Tasmania and from Israel were part of an expedition that found the two islands that may be bits of Gondwana on the seabed in international waters 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) west of Perth. Soil samples they collected during their deep sea expedition this October could be one billion years old, they said.

Gondwana is of particularly interest, since the chunk of land that is now India moved northwest away from the Australian continent, then drifted north and northeast, according to geologists. The eastern piece of Gondwana coast crashed into Eurasia, forming the mighty Himalayas. The Himalayas became protective guardian wall for human life and civilization to flourish in the Indian sub-continent.

Gondwana could be the motherland for most people on Earth, with this supercontinent forming half of current land mass. Besides Antarctica, Australia, India and Sri Lanka, Gondwana included what are now Africa, South America and New Zealand.

The continent of Gondwana fascinates geologists. Plate tectonics - the study of geological activity beneath the Earth's surface - is an infant science that gained wider acceptance only about 60 years ago. A German meteorologist Alfred Wegener in 1912 had first declared theory of continental drift that applies to Gondwana. Geologists are still learning the basics how continents move and collide. Continents are moving every second, as is all phenomena in constant flux.

Dr Bhaskar Rao, a leading Indian geologist and director of the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), said that understanding Gondwana and how continents were formed and broke up is very important for climatic, environment reasons, as well as in the search for mineral resources.

"Study of Gondwana is of particular significance to India since the volcanic eruptions of the Deccan Plateau in central India happened about 60 million years ago," Rao told Asia Times Online. "This is about the same timeframe of the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent."

Rao, a former postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Minnesota in the United States, convened the 8th International Symposium "Gondwana to Asia Supercontinent Dynamics: India and Gondwana" in Hyderabad this August, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of NGRI. The International Association of Gondwana Research in Japan was the co-organizer.

"India’s Lakswadeep Islands [meaning 'hundred thousand islands' in India’s coral belt off the eastern coast] was also part of the Gondwana break-up," Rao said. "So too is Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of Africa."

The supercontinent strikes deep enough chords in India for a province to be named Gondwana - a former administrative region covering parts of what are the modern Indian states of Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and the Deccan Plateau that straddles western, eastern and southern India.

Gonds are the medieval tribal population inhabiting India’s Gondwana region. Said to be among the largest tribal groups in South Asia, the earliest recorded presence of Gonds was in the 14th century - over 60 million years after Gondwana broke up.

The 15-member expedition in October-November, aboard Australia's leading ocean exploring ship RV Southern Surveyor, aimed to find more about how Australia and India were separated, and more about the "de Gonneville Triangle" - the oceanic crust that formed junction of Australia, India and Antarctica. It could hold key to how and why Gondwana broke up into separate land masses. [1]

Besides the Himalayas, the Alps too were squeezed out upwards when Africa separated from the South American land mass and crushed against Europe. Appropriately for this universality in collision of continents, a Gondwana theme park "Gondwana - Das Praehistorium" thrives in Landsweiler-Reden, Germany, giving visitors a glimpse of what life could have been in Gondwanaland.

The Gondwana rocks that scientists discovered in the Indian Ocean last month contained fossils of creatures found in shallow waters. It meant they were once part of the continent at or above sea level rather than created by undersea volcanic activity, said expedition members.

"We have a fairly good idea where those continents were but we don't exactly know, the eastern Indian Ocean is one of the more poorly explored parts of the world's oceans in terms of tectonics," Jo Whittaker told news agency Agence France-Presse. "So it will help us figure out the plate kinematic motions that led to India moving away from Australia and heading up off to crash into Eurasia."

The rocks would be compared with the samples from Australia's west coast to see exactly where the islands broke away. What was the Indian coast to the Gondwana land mass cannot be matched as that crashed coast is now somewhere high up in the Himalayas.

Professor Whittaker, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Geosciences in Sydney University, is studying Indian Ocean plate reconstructions and continental break-up as part of a research project on "Gondwanaland extension, breakup and continental margin evolution".

Various theories periodically emerge about why Gondwana broke up, and whether it just split into two major chunks - with the Indian sub-continent and Australia - or whether it splintered into many more bits of land that comprise other Asian countries. [2]

Other major Gondwana research efforts include those from the International Association for Gondwana Kochi University in Kochi, capital of Shikoku island of Japan. The Japanese Gondwana University focuses on research in origin and evolution of continents, particularly Gondwanaland and its crustal fragments.

The study of Gondwana, and the plate movements beneath the Earth's crust, throws light on the movement of the deadly tsunami waves. Tsunamis are caused by earthquakes that in turn are caused by continental restlessness of the plates beneath the Earth's surface.

The Australia continent is currently traveling north at seven centimeters (2.75 inches) a year, and the catastrophic 2004 earthquake and tsunami were linked to such plate movements and subterranean collisions. Getting to know better what happened to Gondwana could save thousands of lives.

1. Objectives and Voyage plan of the 15-member expedition aboard the Southern Surveyor, led by chief scientist Simon Williams:
The Perth Abyssal Plain: Understanding Eastern Gondwana Break-up.
History of Ancient Supercontinent Detailed. Live Science, April 28, 2008.

The Gondwana supercontinent underwent a 60-degree rotation across Earth's surface during the Early Cambrian period, according to new evidence uncovered by a team of Yale University geologists. Gondwana made up the southern half of Pangaea, the giant supercontinent that constituted the Earth's landmass before it broke up into the separate continents we see today. The study, which appears in the August issue of the journal Geology, has implications for the environmental conditions that existed at a crucial period in Earth's evolutionary history called the Cambrian explosion, when most of the major groups of complex animals rapidly appeared.

Gondwana Shift: The paleomagnetic record from the Amadeus Basin in Australia (marked by the star) indicate a large shift in some parts of the Gondwana supercontinent relative to the South Pole....


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All 6 Fukushima Reactors In Big Trouble?


All 6 Fukushima Reactors In Big Trouble?

Everyone knows that Fukushima reactors 1-3 have melted down, and the fuel pool at reactor 4 is ruined.
But reactors 5 and 6 have been almost entirely ignored since the earthquake because – we were assured – the reactors were in controlled shutdown prior to the earthquake, and so all was safe.
However, there are rumors of problems.

For example, Fukushima Diary notes:
On Tepco’s press release data of 4/25/2011, Iodine-133 was measured at intake of reactor 5 and 6.
0.15 Bq/cm3 8:50 4/24/2011
0.23 Bq/cm3 14:30 4/24/2011
i131 5n6 a Are Fukushima Reactors 5 and 6 In Trouble Also?
Also, according to press release data of 6/13/2011, the temperature of reactor 5 and 6 were hotter than 200 ºC, and data of 3/11~3/15 are concealed.
Even on 3/19/2011, they were still 183C and 167C.delete Are Fukushima Reactors 5 and 6 In Trouble Also?
5/16/2011, Tepco released data of how much contaminated water is sticked [I assume he means "stuck"] under the container vessels.
The table shows,
300 cubic meters under reactor 5,
13,500 cubic meters under reactor 6.
reactor6water Are Fukushima Reactors 5 and 6 In Trouble Also?
In the data on 6/13,the temperature of the water in container vessels are carefully concealed from 3/11~15
(See original for additional graphics; and see this).
Remember that reactors 5 and 6 have spent fuel pools as well as reactors. As  on March 16th:
Kyodo News notes:
Edano said water temperatures in the pools at the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors at the Fukushima plant have been rising as well.
The agency said among the three, the situation is the severest at the No. 4 reactor because all the fuel rods are stored in the pool due to the change of the reactor’s shroud. At the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, up to one-third of the rods are being kept in the pools. The more fuel rods that are kept in a pool, the more radioactive substances could be emitted.
on May 31st:
While most of the problems have been at reactors 1, 2 and 3 (which were all operating when the earthquake hit) and reactor 4 (where spent fuel rods have been leaking), there have also been problems at reactor number 5 as well. Specifically, as
NHK writes:
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says temperatures in the Number 5 reactor and its spent fuel storage pool have risen due to pump failure. The reactor has been in a state of cold shutdown.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it found at 9 PM on Saturday that a pump bringing seawater to cooling equipment for the reactor and pool had stopped working.
TEPCO says temperatures have been rising since then.
And as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ Special Report on the Nuclear Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, demonstrates, the whole story of a cold shutdown of reactors 5 and 6 may be questionable.
As summarized yesterday by EneNews:
  • “Four of the five emergency diesel generators on units 5 and 6 were inoperable after the tsunami”
  • “One air-cooled emergency diesel generator on Unit 6 continued to function and supplied electrical power to Unit 6, and later to Unit 5, to maintain cooling to the reactor and spent fuel pool.”
  • “Unit 5 had been shut down and in an outage since January 3, 2011. Fuel had been loaded into the reactor and the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) reassembled.”
  • “Unit 6 had been shut down and in an outage since August 14, 2010. Fuel had been loaded into the reactor and the RPV reassembled.”
  • “The Unit 6 air-cooled EDG and portions of the electrical distribution system survived the tsunami and were used to reestablish cold shutdown on units 5 and 6.”
  • “After the tsunami impacted the site, operators were able to use the 6B emergency diesel generator (EDG) to provide power to cooling systems for the Unit 6 spent fuel pool. After installing temporary cables, the 6B EDG [generator] provided power to Unit 5 spent fuel pool cooling.”
This post is not affirmatively making claims, but rather asking questions, to which we deserve answers … especially since Tepco has been covering up the scope and severity of the accident since day one....
I followed the Fukushima drama very closely for 3 months and noticed several strange readings in the Tepco-reports during this time. The pressures, water levels and temps in the various parts of the “undamaged” spent fuel pools at times signaled a beginning criticality. I checked the status daily. The reactors themselves produce neutrons (especially when they go critical) that in their turn “heat” up the spent fuel pools. So this kind of radiation aka neutron soup is very “contagious”. All reactors and all storage facilities are drowning in this soup. Even the debris is affected. In time, it will only get worse....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fukushima: Further Away From a Stable Shutdown Than Japanese Claimed....

Fukushima: Further Away From a Stable Shutdown Than Japanese Claimed....

Radioactive xenon has been detected at the Fukushima nuclear plant, indicating that nuclear reactions are still occurring.
BusinessWeek notes that the Japanese government has confirmed the existence of radioactive xenon:
The detection of xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, was confirmed today by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s atomic regulator said.
NHK reports:
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it found in the facility’s No.2 reactor radioactive substances that could have resulted from continuous nuclear fission.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Wednesday that it detected xenon-133 and xenon-135 in gas taken from the reactor’s containment vessel on the previous day. The substances were reportedly in concentrations of 6 to more than 10 parts per million becquerels per cubic centimeter.
Xenon-135 was also detected in gas samples collected on Wednesday.
Radioactive xenon is produced during nuclear fission.
The half-life of xenon-133 is 5 days, and that of xenon-135 is 9 hours.
The utility also says it wants to take a close look at the situation of the plant’s No.1 and 3 reactors.
Bloomberg writes:
Given the signs, it’s certain that fission is occurring,” Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco who regularly talks to the media, told reporters in Tokyo today. There’s been no large-scale or sustained criticality and no increase in radiation, he said.
It’s possible there are similar reactions occurring in the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, the other cores damaged at the station, Matsumoto said.
Melted fuel in the No. 2 reactor may have undergone a sustained process of nuclear fission or re-criticality,” Tetsuo Ito, the head of Kinki University’s Atomic Energy Research Institute, said by phone. “The nuclear fission should be containable by injecting boron into the reactor to absorb neutrons.”
Bellona points out:
According to Bellona physicist and executive director, Nils Bøhmer, and Dr Komei Hosokawa, head of the Department of Environmental and Social Research at Japan’s Kyoto Seika University … The presence of these gasses indicated fresh nuclear fission taking place in the hot debris of the melted fuel rods at the bottom of the container….
“This clear indication that a nuclear chain reaction is going on in one the reactors is a very bad sign. TEPCO had said that the situation would be stable within nine months after the accident,” said Bøhmer.
“Any on-going uncontrolled chain-reaction is not an indication of a stable rector, and we could face a much longer period of instability until the reactors are safe,” he said.
A TEPCO official has confirmed a so-called “partial re-criticality” incident in reactor No 2, said Hosokawa in the information he forwarded to Bellona. Hosokawa said the term “partial re-criticality was “a new vague word for [TEPCO’s] spin practice.
Other radioactive gasses detected at the reactor, said Hosokawa, included Xenon-131m and Krypton-85, which are likely remnants of the chain reactions that occurred immediately after the earthquake and tsunami.
However, Ex-SKF reports – based on a handout from Tepco – that there was a “100-Fold Increase in Krypton-85 from November 1” to November 2nd.
EneNews notes the significance of Krytpon-85:
According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, “Krypton-85 is the best indicator for clandestine plutonium separations” when conducting wide-area atmospheric monitoring.
Also, EX-SKF writes, “According to wiki, ‘About three atoms of krypton-85 are produced for every 1000 fissions (i.e. it has a fission yield of 0.3%)’.
Bellona also writes:
Japanese nuclear authorities … say the chain reactions will not affect the projected shut-own schedule. Currently the temperature at the hot zones of the reactors is been sustained at below 100 degrees Celsius by seawater constantly being pumped in.
Hosokawa, however, strongly disagreed, citing the apparent present condition of the nuclear fuel in reactor No 2, if not others.
“TEPCO so far claimed that the melted-down uranium had formed an oval shape with a cooled-down crust. Their roadmap for the “cold shutdown, if ever, is based on this condition,” said Hosokawa. “Now that they propose a quite different view regarding the condition of nuclear fuel, the roadmap vision [for shutdown] cannot be intact.”
Indeed, we’ve been reporting for months that nuclear reactions are probably still continuing at Fukushima (as have Fairewinds, Ene and Ex-SKF.)
The New York Times points out:
The unexpected bursts — something akin to flare-ups after a major fire … threaten to increase the amount of dangerous radioactive elements leaking from the complex and complicate cleanup efforts, raising startling questions about how much remains uncertain at the plant….
The plant’s owner admitted for the first time that fuel deep inside three stricken plants was probably continuing to experience bursts of fission.
It is impossible to determine exactly what state the fuel is in, given that even an intact reactor can offer only limited gauges in the form of temperature, pressure readings and neutron flow, but not visual observation. That lack of clarity is one of the most resonant lessons of the Fukushima disaster, where those trying to guide the response and assess the danger operated by what amounted to educated guesswork.
In reactors of the design used at Fukushima, that chain reaction is normally stopped when the operator gives a command to insert control rods, which rise up from the bottom of the core and separate the fuel assemblies. But when the cores of three reactors at Fukushima melted, a large part of the fuel presumably formed a jumbled mass in the bottom of the vessel, and without a strict gridlike geometry, the control rods cannot be inserted. Some of the fuel has escaped the vessel, experts believe, and is in spaces underneath, where there is no way to use control rods to interrupt the flow of neutrons.
The three reactors — together with spent fuel rods stored at a fourth damaged reactor — have been leaking radioactive material since the initial disaster, and new episodes of fission would only increase their dangers.
Re-criticality would produce more harmful radioactive material, and because the reactors are damaged, there would be a danger of a leak,” said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, whose prescient warnings about nuclear safety have won him respect in Japan.
Mr. Koide holds that the nuclear fuel at the three reactors probably melted through containments and into the ground, raising the possibility of contaminated groundwater. If much of the fuel was indeed in the ground early in the crisis, the “feed and bleed” strategy initially taken by Tokyo Electric — where workers pumped cooling water into the reactors, producing hundreds of tons of radioactive runoff — would have prevented fuel still in the reactor from boiling itself dry and melting, but would not have done anything to reduce danger from fuel already in the soil — if it got that far.
Tokyo Electric does not deny the possibility that the fuel may have burrowed into the ground, but its officials say that “most” of the fuel likely remains within the reactor, albeit slumped at the bottom in a molten mass.
But even in their most dire assessments, some experts had not expected even bursts of re-criticality to occur, because it was unlikely that the fuel would melt in just the right way — and that another ingredient, water, would be present in just the right amounts — to allow for any nuclear reaction. If episodes of fission at Fukushima were confirmed, Mr. Koide said, “our entire understanding of nuclear safety would be turned on its head.”
Some nuclear experts have debated for months whether nuclear reactions might be continuing, either in the fuel inside the reactors, or in the spent fuel pools at the plant. They have pointed, for example, to the continued reports of short-lived iodine in the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 3.
A former nuclear engineer with three decades of experience at a major engineering firm … who has worked at all three nuclear power complexes operated by Tokyo Electric … said that tiny fuel pellets could have been carried to different parts of the plant, like the spaces under the reactor during attempts to vent them in the early days. That would explain several cases of lethally high radiation readings found outside the reactor cores.
“If the fuel is still inside the reactor core, that’s one thing,” he said. But if the fuel has been dispersed more widely, then we are far from any stable shutdown.
Hopefully, nuclear expert Paul Gunter’s fear that we face a “China Syndrome” – where the fuel from the reactor cores at Fukushima have melted through the container vessels, into the ground, and are hitting groundwater and creating highly-radioactive steam – will turn out to be overblown (even though NHK and Tepco have allegedly confirmed that steam was escaping from underground back in June, something Fukushima workers have alleged for some time):


Take a look at this - this is the web site of UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Department - reporting that Stuxnet was a factor in Fukushima!!!

Cracking Stuxnet

Excerpt: Stuxnet malware is reportedly a contributing factor to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Clue ... virtually every control system failed or reacted wrongly to emergency conditions....

Japan received enormous exposures from radiation. New Gunderson video.
Japan TV: Tepco was victim of “cyber attack” in past year
TEPCO just came around to admitting that it was cyber-attacked. Tepco runs Siemens software for nuclear reactors. Kosher Stuxnet was specifically written to attack Siemens software....
Video, Michael Rivero: "Stuxnet, Japan Division". LINK.
 Two interesting updates on possible Fukushima radiation poisoning - First - The case of acute lymphocytic leukemia: No, not in a young child in a high radiation spot that is often talked about on Twitter. A 63-year-old TV newscaster has been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and is now hospitalized, getting ready for chemo. He felt a strange lump in his neck on October 28, he says. (Various news sources including: Zakzak 11/7/2011, Yomiuri Shinbun 11/6/2011) In his morning program on Fuji TV he's been promoting Fukushima produce by eating them in the show. He also happened to be in Fukushima in March 15. Just a coincidence. Never mind that ALL is predominant in small children, and an adult case is one in 100,000 annually in Japan. Second:The case of Japan's Imperial Family getting sick: The 9-year-old daughter of the crown prince and princess was hospitalized for a few days for mycoplasma pneumonia (NHK News 11/5/2011). The empress has been ill with aches and pains in the arms and legs (Sankei Shinbun 10/12/2011). Now the emperor himself is being hospitalized for bronchitis (Mainichi Shinbun 11/6/2011). The areas surrounding the imperial household in the center of Tokyo in Chiyoda-ku has elevated radiation levels. The foodstuff that is used in the imperial household - vegetables, milk, egg, beef - comes from the imperial farm in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture (Imperial Household Agency, announcement on 7/21/2011) where the radiation is even more elevated and where the meat cow nearby was found with high level of radioactive cesium. (This link goes to my English blog post.) The daughter of the crown prince and princess spent her summer vacation in Nasu. (This link is also in English.) The Kan administration sent the emperor and empress in April and May to cheer up the quake/tsunami victims in Chiba, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, 7 weeks in a row. They ate food in Fukushima, and bring some home for their sons' families. Lastly, The case of radioactive rice in Yokohama City: The public park where 2770 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found from the dried shiitake mushrooms, most of which had been fed to the public including 256 small children also grew rice in the rice paddies. The rice was found with 13 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Oh such a minute amount, no effect on health! More at EX-SKF - http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 15, 2011

China warns India on South China Sea exploration projects...

Blocks of Vietnam's continental shelf in Gulf of Bac Bo

China on Thursday indicated it was opposed to India engaging in oil and gas exploration projects in the disputed South China Sea, and warned Indian companies against entering into any agreements with Vietnam ahead of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Hanoi this week.
“Our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said, in reply to a question on reports that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh Limited was considering exploration projects in two blocks that Vietnam claims.
While Ms. Jiang said she was not aware of reports of Indian involvement in any projects, she stressed China enjoyed “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea and its islands.
“We hope foreign countries will not get involved in the dispute,” she said. “For countries outside the region, we hope they will respect and support countries in the region to solve this dispute through bilateral channels.”
China and Vietnam are among at least ten countries that hold competing claims over the South China Sea and the islands located in its waters.
In June, tensions flared between China and Vietnam over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, following clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese boats.
External Affairs Minister Mr. Krishna will hold talks in Hanoi later this week. Among the issues slated for discussion, according to media reports, is an agreement for oil and gas exploration in two blocks over which Vietnam claims sovereignty, by ONGC Videsh.
China had reportedly voiced its objections to India about the projects, saying that any projects would be “illegal” as China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
India, however, is likely to go ahead with the projects in the two blocks, which Vietnam says it holds rights to under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In recent weeks, India, too, has raised concerns over Chinese projects in disputed territory — in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China has rejected Indian concerns over this issue, stating that it viewed the dispute as one for India and Pakistan to solve.
Ms. Jiang said the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea “did not give any country the right to expand their own exclusive economic zone and continental shelf to other countries’ territories”. The convention, she said, did not negate “a country’s right formed in history that has been consistently claimed”.
Disputes between China, Vietnam and other countries that hold claims to the South China Sea have flared in recent months. While China’s neighbors have blamed an increasingly assertive Chinese navy for stirring tensions, with recent clashes with both Vietnam and the Philippines, Chinese officials have pointed the finger at the United States for fanning the flames with its renewing of military alliances in the region.
Ahead of Mr. Krishna’s visit, India has also stressed its strong support for the “freedom of navigation in international waters, including in the South China Sea”, after the INS Airavat, on a recent goodwill visit to Vietnam, was asked over radio to leave “Chinese waters”....

India and Vietnam will sign several contracts on Business Strategy, Commerce, Energy and Technology....


Despite objections or harassment of China, India plan to sign several contracts with theU.S. , including oil exploitation contracts outside the U.S. continental shelf between OVLand Petrovietnam, the contract for the engineering camp opened in Vietnam, as well as increased borrowing to fund the U.S. implementation plans will be signed when Truong Tan Sang went to India in mid-October. In the recent U.S. visit, Indian foreign minister SM Krishna spoke a lot about treaties, trade, economic and technical cooperation between the two countries.
Oil exploitation contracts between OVL and Petrovietnam is considered strategic because the contract will challenge China on the so-called “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. Already here, India has asked China to terminate the planned game against oil on the East Coast of India OVL.
Ensure energy needs are paramount factors in the relationship between Vietnam and India, despite the Chinese threat. Part of the exploitation of oil OVL up to more than half the total amount of 400 million dollars of Indian investment in Vietnam.
Unmoved by Chinese objections, the ONGC Videsh Ltd
(OVL) and Petro Vietnam - state-owned exploration and production of Companies
India and Vietnam -are likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU ) on
Strategic Cooperation. Signing of the pact is expected to be one of the nhiều
outcomes in terms of Agreements khi
Truong Tan Sang Vietnam President visits India in the second week of October.
India will announce more cũng line of credit, above the existing Rs 300 crore
Besides opening and more information technology (IT) parks in Vietnam.
Many Agreements in the areas of trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological
Cooperation are likely to be Inked khi cũng Sang’s visit.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna Discussions with Sang long held on the
Entire Facet of the bilateral ties During His visit to Vietnam.
The MoU the between OVL and Petro Vietnam in the nature of a “Strategic
Cooperation “đồng nghĩa Undertaking of more exploration projects, mà can irk
China enjoys very little with its position “undisputed Territorial Sovereignty over
South China sea . “

South China Sea: A new geopolitical node....

.....For a long time, the planet's geopolitical nodes were situated in Europe, namely the Balkans and Alsace and Lorraine. For 20 years after the dissolution of Soviet Union geopolitical node of the planet was Middle East. Now it's safe to say that the new geopolitical node is the South China Sea.

It is the South China Sea where interests intersect for the major global players: the United States, Japan - as the No.2 power, and the rising giants of Asia, China and India. On its coastline or near

it are seated many rapidly developing countries - Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore. The countries of Southeast Asia account for nearly 10% of world population, and 2.5% of global GDP.

Sea-trade is foundation of global economy: 90% of world's commerce travels by sea. It is the second most used sea lane in the world - over 50% of the annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. The Strait of Malacca accounts for nearly 10 millions barrels of crude oil every day. There are enormous mineral and fishing resources, and the South China Sea is estimated to hold about 7 billion barrels of oil and 900 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

At the same time, a lot of threats to the national security of regional and out-of-the region countries are associated with those waters. These threats could be divided into three types.

The first type is socio-economic threats. Despite rapid economic growth Southeast Asia is one of the poorest regions of the world. More than a half of population lives on less than $1 a day. Illiteracy also remains among the highest. A substantial part of the population has problems with food, drinking water and medicines. The situation is only getting worse because of frequent natural disasters; the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was the strongest among them, but not the only one.

This unpleasant socio-economic situation is a source of the second type of threats - irregular ones. The South China Sea is second most dangerous pirate-infested region of the world after the Somali coast and Horn of Africa. International terrorism menace is also obvious, especially for such states as Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. Many terrorist organizations operate in region, many of them with ties to al-Qaeda - Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf, the Maoist New People's Army and others. Southeast Asia (the Golden Triangle) is, together with Afghanistan and Central Asia (the Golden Crescent) and Latin America, one of key centers of illegal drug trafficking. Other types of illegal activity also prosper. All these facts lead to increasing of domestic instability. Almost every state has its own sources of political, ethnic or religious conflicts. The 2006 coup d'้tat and ensuing wave of political instability in Thailand is only one of many examples.

The third, and perhaps most important type of threats in the region of South China Sea is regular, traditional threats of interstate conflict, including unresolved territorial disputes between China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. China claims most of the South China Sea as well as the Paracel and Spratly islands. China's government uses the so-called nine-dash map, whose eligibility is fiercely disputed, primarily by Vietnam and Philippines. According to President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines: "China's 9-dash line territorial claim over the entire South China Sea is against international laws, particularly the United National Convention of the Laws of the Sea".

Authoritative Chinese newspaper Global Times said in recent article "The South China Sea is the best place for China to wage wars. Of the more than 1,000 oil rigs there, none belongs to China; of the four airfields in the Spratly Islands, none belongs to China". Chinese Navy commander Admiral Wu Shengli stated "how would you feel if I cut off your arms and legs? That's how China feels about the South China Sea".

Then there is the possibility of conflict between Taiwan and mainland China. Beijing seeks peaceful reunification according to Deng Xiaoping's "one country, two systems" doctrine, but an armed conflict cannot be excluded. Reunification with Taiwan is a task of paramount importance. It is necessary for China's national consolidation and security. Reunification will break the First island chain and question the US policy of China containment.

"As we obtain absolute security of our own maritime lifeline, it also implies absolute control over Japan's maritime lifeline", says Professor Ni Lexiong, a proponent of Chinese sea power. This is also true for South Korea and for countries in the South China Sea.

Finally, there is a possibility of conflict between China and India. Relations between the two Asia giants have always been uneasy, and in the next decade tensions could escalate. China is developing a system of diplomatic, military and political ties in Indian ocean under the "String of Pearls" doctrine and India is attempting to forge closer and deeper integration with its neighbors in South East Asia under its "Look East" policy. These two opposing doctrines clash in South China Sea.

On July 22 after sailing 45 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast, Indian landing ship INS Airavat was called on an open radio channel by someone identifying himself as the "Chinese Navy". "You are entering Chinese waters," the radio caller said, according to the India Government. This case was likely someone's silly joke, but it is another evidence of growing tension in Indo-Chinese relations in the region, especially after Vietnam and India's launch of a joint oil project in the South China Sea brought a negative reaction from Beijing. China has begun to pay special attention to its sea power over the past decade. According to the former US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, China has the fastest-growing navy in the world today. Chinese President Hu Jintao called China a "sea power" and advocated a ''powerful people's navy'' to ''uphold our maritime rights and interests".

The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) consists of about 200 ships excluding auxiliary and mosquito fleet. According to the US Department of Defense about 55% of submarines and 25% of surface combat ships are modern, highly capable ships. The role of China's first aircraft carrier Shi Lang and the ballistic anti-ship missile DF-21D are overestimated, but Chinese conventional submarines, destroyers and small attack craft are underestimated.

India is also increasing its sea power. It develops its own shipbuilding industry and actively buy ships and other naval technology abroad. The largest projects are building of India first indigenous nuclear submarine, purchase of Russian carrier, frigates and French conventional submarines. Other states also pay increasing attention to development of theirs navies. According to Bob Nugent, the vice-president of Ami Intrnational, the Asia-Pacific region will be the second-largest naval market after the United States in the next 20 years.
In turn, the Unites States, while remaining military and naval superpower, faces a decline in its potential in region. This is due to defense spending cuts, the heavy burden of global commitments and its naval forward presence. On top of that, the national debt is America's biggest security threat, according to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. China is largest holder of US national debt and also its largest trading partner.

This whole set of challenges and threats will largely determine world politics in the coming decades. The European Union, Russia, Brazil and other out-of-the-region powers should take this into account.

Prokhor Tebin is a PhD student at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Science.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

2012 pole shift? Count on it, say US government scientists....

"2012" no longer science fiction, but science fact....?
October , 2011 -- 2012 pole shift? Count on it, say US government scientists....

Although Mayan, Chinese, and Egyptian prognostications about a major global cataclysm occurring on December 21, 2012, have been relegated by many in the corporate media to the realm of science fiction and "junk science," a group of scientists from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Energy are not so dismissive. In fact, at a conference held at the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center on October 6, scientists not only proclaimed that the Earth is due for a major magnetic pole shift and solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) next year but stated that the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructures, including nuclear power plants, are woefully unprepared to deal with the effects of the impending global disaster. There is a real fear that the United States could be dealing with "thirty Fukushimas," a reference to the nuclear catastrophe following this year's Japanese quake and tsunami.

At the one-day Conference on Severe Space Weather Threats to the National Electric Grid, sponsored by the Energy & Environmental Security Policy Program at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University (NDU), the intelligence and military contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the Congressional EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) Caucus, and the InfraGard National Members Alliance, scientists and emergency planners called for government action on shoring up the nation's defenses.

In what is called a "solar max," meaning an increase in CMEs that will disrupt the earth's electrical grids, nuclear power plant support systems, and communication systems, government scientists and emergency planners agree that the federal government has done little to plan for such catastrophic events. Solar max, coupled with increased earthquake, volcanic, and severe weather activity, will stretch the already-depleted resources of federal, state, and local governments to the breaking point. Emergency planners stressed that families and individuals must make preparations for their own safety and recovery from the global bedlam that will result from the significant terrestrial and solar changes.

Scientists confirmed that the increase in the frequency and intensity and the more shallow depths of earthquakes over the last decade is linked to the solar max and magnetic pole shift activity. There is still some disagreement among scientists about the effect of solar max and magnetic pole shift on earth's geographical pole stability.

Some countries are already planning for worst-case scenarios. Twenty-three Indian Ocean countries are participating next week in the first ever drill of the Indian Ocean tsunami alert system, dubbed IOWAVE 11. The drill will plan for a 9.2 earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra, similar to the quake which struck the same area on December 26, 2004. The countries in the Indian Ocean region will plan for a destructive tsunami that will swamp the coastlines of littoral and island nations and strike the South African coast 12 hours after the quake. The Indian Ocean alert system was funded by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The critical drill comes at a time when pro-Israel members of the U.S. Congress are threatening a cut-off of U.S. financial contributions to UNESCO because of the recent decision by the body's executive committee to recommend the admission of Palestine as a full member state....

Monday, October 3, 2011

Secret US-Israeli Nuke Transfers Led To Fukushima Blasts....

By Yoichi Shimatsu

Sixteen tons and what you get is a nuclear catastrophe. The explosions that rocked the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant were more powerful than the combustion of hydrogen gas, as claimed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The actual cause of the blasts, according to intelligence sources in Washington, was nuclear fission of. warhead cores illegally taken from America’s sole nuclear-weapons assembly facility. Evaporation in the cooling pools used for spent fuel rods led to the detonation of stored weapons-grade plutonium and uranium.
The facts about clandestine American and Israeli support for Japan’s nuclear armament are being suppressed in the biggest official cover-up in recent history. The timeline of events indicates the theft from America’s strategic arsenal was authorized at the highest level under a three-way deal between the Bush-Cheney team, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Elhud Olmert’s government in Tel Aviv.
Tokyo’s Strangelove
In early 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Tokyo with his closest aides. Newspaper editorials noted the secrecy surrounding his visit – no press conferences, no handshakes with ordinary folks and, as diplomatic cables suggest, no briefing for U.S. Embassy staffers in Tokyo.
Cheney snubbed Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, who was shut out of confidential talks. The pretext was his criticism of President George Bush for claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The more immediate concern was that the defense minister might disclose bilateral secrets to the Pentagon. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were sure to oppose White House approval of Japan’s nuclear program.
An unannounced reason for Cheney’s visit was to promote a quadrilateral alliance in the Asia-Pacific region. The four cornerstones – the US, Japan, Australia and India – were being called on to contain and confront China and its allies North Korea and Russia.. From a Japanese perspective, this grand alliance was flawed by asymmetry: The three adversaries were nuclear powers, while the U.S. was the only one in the Quad group.
To further his own nuclear ambitions, Abe was playing the Russian card. As mentioned in a U.S. Embassy cable (dated 9/22), the Yomiuri Shimbun gave top play to this challenge to the White House : “It was learned yesterday that the government and domestic utility companies have entered final talks with Russia in order to relegate uranium enrichment for use at nuclear power facilities to Atomprom, the state-owned nuclear monopoly.” If Washington refused to accept a nuclear-armed Japan, Tokyo would turn to Moscow.
Since the Liberal Democratic Party selected him as prime minister in September 2006, the hawkish Abe repeatedly called for Japan to move beyond the postwar formula of a strictly defensive posture and non-nuclear principles. Advocacy of a nuclear-armed Japan arose from his family tradition. His grandfather Nobusuke Kishi nurtured the wartime atomic bomb project and, as postwar prime minister, enacted the civilian nuclear program. His father Shintaro Abe, a former foreign minister, had played the Russian card in the 1980s, sponsoring the Russo-Japan College, run by the Aum Shinrikyo sect (a front for foreign intelligence), to recruit weapons scientists from a collapsing Soviet Union.
The chief obstacle to American acceptance of a nuclear-armed Japan was the Pentagon, where Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima remain as iconic symbols justifying American military supremacy.The only feasible channel for bilateral transfers then was through the civilian-run Department of Energy (DoE), which supervises the production of nuclear weapons.
Camp David Go-Ahead
The deal was sealed on Abe’s subsequent visit to Washington. Wary of the eavesdropping that led to Richard Nixon’s fall from grace, Bush preferred the privacy afforded at Camp David. There, in a rustic lodge on April 27, Bush and Abe huddled for 45 minutes. What transpired has never been revealed, not even in vague outline.
As his Russian card suggested, Abe was shopping for enriched uranium. At 99.9 percent purity, American-made uranium and plutonium is the world’s finest nuclear material. The lack of mineral contaminants means that it cannot be traced back to its origin. In contrast, material from Chinese and Russian labs can be identified by impurities introduced during the enrichment process.
Abe has wide knowledge of esoteric technologies. His first job in the early 1980s was as a manager at Kobe Steel. One of the researchers there was astrophysicist Hideo Murai, who adapted Soviet electromagnetic technology to “cold mold” steel. Murai later became chief scientist for the Aum Shinrikyo sect, which recruited Soviet weapons technicians under the program initiated by Abe’s father. After entering government service, Abe was posted to the U.S. branch of JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization). Its New York offices hosted computers used to crack databases at the Pentagon and major defense contractors to pilfer advanced technology. The hacker team was led by Tokyo University’s top gamer, who had been recruited into Aum.
After the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995, Abe distanced himself from his father’s Frankenstein cult with a publics-relations campaign. Fast forward a dozen years and Abe is at Camp David. After the successful talks with Bush, Abe flew to India to sell Cheney’s quadrilateral pact to a Delhi skeptical about a new Cold War. Presumably, Cheney fulfilled his end of the deal. Soon thereafter Hurricane Katrina struck, wiping away the Abe visit from the public memory.
The Texas Job
BWXT Pantex, America’s nuclear warhead facility, sprawls over 16,000 acres of the Texas Panhandle outside Amarillo. Run by the DoE and Babcock & Wilson, the site also serves as a storage facility for warheads past their expiration date. The 1989 shutdown of Rocky Flats, under community pressure in Colorado, forced the removal of those nuclear stockpiles to Pantex. Security clearances are required to enter since it is an obvious target for would-be nuclear thieves.
In June 2004, a server at the Albuquerque office of the National Nuclear Security System was hacked. Personal information and security-clearance data for 11 federal employees and 177 contractors at Pantex were lifted. NNSA did not inform Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman or his deputy Clay Sell until three months after the security breach, indicating investigators suspected an inside job.
While Bush and Abe met at Camp David, 500 unionized security guards at Pantex launched a 45-day strike. Scabs were hired, but many failed to pass the entry exam, according to the Inspector General’s office at DoE. The IG report cited witnesses who said: “BWXT officials gave passing grades to some replacement guards even though they actually flunked tests,” and “contractor officials gave correct answers to those that failed the tests.” Although the scene was nearly as comical as the heist in “Ocean’s Eleven”, Pantex is not some Vegas casino. At stake was nuclear Armageddon.
At an opportune moment during the two-month strike, trucks loaded with warhead cores rolled out of the gates. Some 16 metric tons of nuclear cores packed in caskets were hauled away in refrigerated containers to prevent fission. At the port of Houston, the dangerous cargo was loaded aboard vessels operated by an Israeli state-owned shipping line. The radioactive material was detected by port inspector Roland Carnaby, a private contractor working under the federal program to interdict weapons of mass destruction.
The intelligence community is still buzzing about his shooting death. On April 29, 2008, Houston police officers pursued Carnaby on a highway chase and gunned him down. His port monitoring contract was later awarded to the Israel-based security firm NICE (Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering), owned by former Israeli Defense Force officers.
Throughout the Pantex caper, from the data theft to smuggling operation, Bush and Cheney’s point man for nuclear issues was DoE Deputy Director Clay Sell, a lawyer born in Amarillo and former aide to Panhandle district Congressman Mac Thornberry. Sell served on the Bush-Cheney transition team and became the top adviser to the President on nuclear issues. At DoE, Sell was directly in charge of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, which includes 17 national laboratories and the Pantex plant. (Another alarm bell: Sell was also staff director for the Senate Energy subcommittee under the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who died in a 2010 plane crash.)
An Israeli Double-Cross
The nuclear shipments to Japan required a third-party cutout for plausible deniability by the White House. Israel acted less like an agent and more like a broker in demanding additional payment from Tokyo, according to intelligence sources. Adding injury to insult, the Israelis skimmed off the newer warhead cores for their own arsenal and delivered older ones. Since deteriorated cores require enrichment, the Japanese were furious and demanded a refund, which the Israelis refused. Tokyo had no recourse since by late 2008 principals Abe had resigned the previous autumn and Bush was a lame duck.
The Japanese nuclear developers, under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, had no choice but to enrich the uranium cores at Fukushima No.1, a location remote enough to evade detection by nonproliferation inspectors. Hitachi and GE had developed a laser extraction process for plutonium, which requires vast amounts of electrical power. This meant one reactor had to make unscheduled runs, as was the case when the March earthquake struck.
Tokyo dealt a slap on the wrist to Tel Aviv by backing Palestinian rights at the UN. Not to be bullied, the Israeli secret service launched the Stuxnet virus against Japan’s nuclear facilities.
Firewalls kept Stuxnet at bay until the Tohoku earthquake. The seismic activity felled an electricity tower behind Reactor 6. The power cut disrupted the control system, momentarily taking down the firewall. As the computer came online again, Stuxnet infiltrated to shut down the back-up generators. During the 20-minute interval between quake and tsunami, the pumps and valves at Fukushima No.1 were immobilized, exposing the turbine rooms to flood damage.
The flow of coolant water into the storage pools ceased, quickening evaporation. Fission of the overheated cores led to blasts and mushroom-clouds. Residents in mountaintop Iitate village overlooking the seaside plant saw plumes of smoke and could “taste the metal” in their throats.
Guilty as Charged
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami were powerful enough to damage
Fukushima No.1. The natural disaster, however, was vastly amplified by two external factors: release of the Stuxnet virus, which shut down control systems in the critical 20 minutes prior to the tsunami; and presence of weapons-grade nuclear materials that devastated the nuclear facility and contaminated the entire region.

Of the three parties involved, which bears the greatest guilt? All three are guilty of mass murder, injury and destruction of property on a regional scale, and as such are liable for criminal prosecution and damages under international law and in each respective jurisdiction.
The White House, specifically Bush, Cheney and their co-conspirators in the DoE, hold responsibility for ordering the illegal removal and shipment of warheads without safeguards.
The state of Israel is implicated in theft from U.S. strategic stockpiles, fraud and extortion against the Japanese government, and a computer attack against critical infrastructure with deadly consequences, tantamount to an act of war.
Prime Minister Abe and his Economy Ministry sourced weapons-grade nuclear material in violation of constitutional law and in reckless disregard of the risks of unregulated storage, enrichment and extraction. Had Abe not requested enriched uranium and plutonium in the first place, the other parties would not now be implicated. Japan, thus, bears the onus of the crime.
The International Criminal Court has sufficient grounds for taking up a case that involves the health of millions of people in Japan, Canada, the United States, Russia, the Koreas, Mongolia, China and possibly the entire Northern Hemisphere. The Fukushima disaster is more than an human-rights charge against a petty dictator, it is a crime against humanity on par with the indictments at the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals. Failure to prosecute is complicity.
If there is a silver lining to every dark cloud, it’s that the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami saved the world from even greater folly by halting the drive to World War III....