Nuclear Monitor #816 - 17 December 2015

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
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In this issue of the Monitor:

COP that: nuclear lobbyists on the offensive

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

The nuclear industry and its supporters were busily promoting nuclear power − and attacking environmentalists − before and during the COP21 UN climate conference in Paris. All the usual suspects were promoting nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source: the World Nuclear Association, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Energy Agency, the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency, the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute, and so on.1

The Breakthrough Institute has been promoting its pro-nuclear "paradigm-shifting advocacy for an ecomodernist future" and arguing against the "reactionary apocalyptic pastoralism" of anyone who disagrees with them.2 In reality the Breakthrough Institute is anything but 'paradigm shifting'. A glowing endorsement in the National Review states: "Ecomodernists are pro-fracking. They advocate genetically engineered crops (GMOs) ... Most distinctively, the ecomodernists are pro-growth and pro-free markets. "The Kardashians are not the reason Africans are starving," chides Alex Trembath, a senior researcher at the Breakthrough Institute ..."3

Bill Gates was in Paris to announce the formation of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Gates was promoting 'clean energy' but it seems likely the capital the Coalition attracts will be directed disproportionately to nuclear R&D.4

Robert Stone, director of the Pandora's Promise pro-nuclear propaganda film5, launched a 'resource hub' called Energy For Humanity, promoting "more advanced, mass-producible, passively safe, reactor designs".6

Rauli Partanen and Janne Korhonen, members of the Finnish Ecomodernist Society, have been attacking environmentalists for opposing nuclear power − including WISE and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), the organisations that produce Nuclear Monitor. Rebutting7 a rebuttal8 by Michael Mariotte from NIRS, Partanen and Korhonen offer this gem: "even the much-maligned Olkiluoto 3 nuclear project [in Finland] turns out to be very fast way of adding low-carbon energy production when compared to any real-world combination of alternatives." A single reactor that will take well over a decade to build (and is three times over budget) is a "very fast way" of adding low-carbon energy? Huh?

Partanen and Korhanan authored a booklet called Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future?, and crowdfunded the printing of 5,000 copies which were distributed for free at the COP21 conference.9

James Hansen and three other climate scientists were in Paris to promote nuclear power. Hansen attacks the "intransigent network of anti-nukes" that has "grown to include 'Big Green,' huge groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and World Wide Fund for Nature. They have trained lawyers, scientists, and media staff ready to denounce any positive news about nuclear power."10

By way of sharp contrast, the impoverished U.S. nuclear industry could only rustle up US$60 million (€55m) to lobby Congress and federal agencies in 2013−14.11

So is there an undercurrent of grassroots pro-nuclear environmentalism waiting to burst forth if only their voice could cut through Big Green hegemony? Perhaps Nuclear for Climate12, promoted as a "grassroots organization"1, is the environmental network to take on Big Green? Well, no. Nuclear for Climate isn't a network of grassroots environmentalists, it's a network of more than 140 nuclear societies. It isn't grassroots environmentalism, it's corporate astroturf.

And the list of 140 associations includes 36 chapters of the 'Women in Nuclear' organisation and 43 chapters of the 'Young Generation Network'.13 One wonders whether these organisations have any meaningful existence. Does Tanzania really have a pro-nuclear Young Generation Network? Don't young people in Tanzania have better things to do?

Nuclear for Climate has a website, a hashtag, a twitter handle and all the modern social media sine qua non. But it has some work to do with its messaging. One of its COP21 memes was: 'The radioactive waste are not good for the climate? Wrong!' So radioactive waste is good for the climate?!

Has the nuclear lobby achieved anything?

The nuclear industry's hopes for the COP21 conference were dashed. Michael Mariotte from the Nuclear Information & Resource Service writes:14

"The international Don't Nuke the Climate campaign had two major goals for COP 21: 1) to ensure that any agreement reached would not encourage use of nuclear power and, preferably, to keep any pro-nuclear statement out of the text entirely; and 2) along with the rest of the environmental community, to achieve the strongest possible agreement generally.

"The first goal was certainly met. The word "nuclear" does not appear in the text and there are no incentives whatsoever for use of nuclear power. That was a clear victory. But that is due not only to a global lack of consensus on nuclear power, but to the fact that the document does not specifically endorse or reject any technology (although it does implicitly reject continued sustained use of fossil fuels). Rather, each nation brought its own greenhouse gas reduction plan to the conference. "Details," for example whether there should be incentives for any particular technology, will be addressed at follow-up meetings over the next few years. So it is imperative that the Don't Nuke the Climate campaign continue, and grow, and be directly involved at every step of the way − both inside and outside the meetings.

"As for the strongest possible agreement, well, it may have been the "strongest possible" that could be agreed to by 195 nations in 2015. By at least recognizing that the real goal should be limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Centigrade rather than the 2 degrees previously considered by most nations to be the top limit, the final document was stronger than many believed possible going into the negotiations. That said, the environmental community agrees that the agreement doesn't go far enough and, importantly, that the commitments made to date do not meet even this document's aspirations."

There is a strong push from the nuclear lobby for nuclear power to be included in the UN's Green Climate Fund. This would enable subsidies for nuclear power − subsidies that would come at the expense of renewables and other climate change mitigation programs.

So the nuclear industry didn't make any gains at COP21, but is it making any progress in its broader efforts to attract public support? It's hard to say, but there's no evidence of a shift in public opinion. A 2005 IAEA-commissioned survey of 18 countries found that there was majority opposition to new reactors in all but one of the 18 countries.15 A 2011 IPSOS survey of nearly 19,000 people in 24 countries found 69% opposition to new reactors, and majority opposition to new reactors in all but one of the 24 countries.16

Is the nuclear industry having any success winning over environmentalists? Around the margins, perhaps, but the ranks of 'pro-nuclear environmentalists' are very thin. As James Hansen complained in the lead-up to COP21, the Climate Action Network, representing all the major environmental groups, opposes nuclear power. 'Big Green' opposes nuclear power, and so does small green. Efforts by nuclear lobbyists to split the environment movement have failed.

And the nuclear lobby certainly isn't winning where it matters: nuclear power has been stagnant for the past 20 years and costs are rising, whereas the growth of renewables has been spectacular and costs are falling. One of the recurring claims in the pro-nuclear propaganda surrounding COP21 is the claim that renewables can't be deployed quickly enough whereas nuclear can. But 783 gigawatts of new renewable power capacity were installed in the decade from 2005−2014.17 That's more power producing capacity than the nuclear industry has installed in its entire 60+ year history!

The nuclear lobby didn't even win the battle of the celebrities at COP21. James Hansen, Bill Gates and other pro-nuclear celebrities put up a good fight against pro-renewable celebrities such as conservationist David Attenborough. But the pro-renewable celebrities raising their voice during COP21 included Pope Francis. And he's infallible.


1. Nuclear Energy Institute, 3 Dec 2015, 'Pro-Nuclear Voices Raised at Paris Climate Talks',

2. Will Boisvert 18 Sept 2014, 'The Left vs. the Climate',

3. Julie Kelly, 2 Dec 2015, 'A New Breed of American Environmentalists Challenges the Stale Dogma of the Left',

4. Tina Casey, 3 Dec 2015, 'COP21 Gets a Spark of Nuclear Energy from Breakthrough Energy Coalition',

5. 'Pandora's Propaganda', Nuclear Monitor #773, 21 Nov 2013,

'Pandora's Promise' Propaganda, Nuclear Monitor #764, 28 June 2013,


7. Rauli Partanen and Janne M. Korhonen, 2 Dec 2015, 'Don't Nuke the Climate: A Response',

8. Michael Mariotte, 30 Nov 2015, 'When a campaign strikes a nerve',


10. Jarret Adams, 26 Nov 2015, 'No Climate Solution Without Nuclear, Experts Say',

11. Daniel Stevens, 17 Feb 2015, 'Platts' Nuclear Conference Attended by Companies Spending Millions on Lobbying',



14. Michael Mariotte, 12 Dec 2015, "The Paris Agreement on climate — a good start, but ...",

15. Globescan, 2005, 'Global Public Opinion on Nuclear Issues and the IAEA: Final report from 18 countries', prepared for the IAEA,

16. IPSOS, June 2011, 'Global Citizen Reaction to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster',

17. Greenpeace International, September 2015, 'Energy [R]evolution: A sustainable world energy outlook 2015',

The Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Two key threats endangering future generations

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jakob von Uexkull − World Future Council

Over the past two weeks, Heads of States met in Paris to finally agree on a plan to curb climate change. Considering that climate change can exacerbate a range of interconnected transnational threats and crises that our generation faces today, such as extreme poverty, hunger, violent conflicts and pandemic disease, meaningful action is urgently needed.

Despite this, the proposed measures are again nowhere near proportional to the problem. In fact, the climate negotiations have so far been subjected to lack of information and misguidance on so-called solutions that should enable us to limit the rise in temperatures to 2°C.1 One particular problem is that too many of the 'intended nationally determined contributions' (INDCs) still build on nuclear energy as a way for low-carbon development.

This is extremely problematic given that increased reliance on nuclear energy to reduce carbon emissions will contribute to the risks of nuclear proliferation. In these crucial times, current instabilities and geopolitical tensions are an important dynamic to consider. The increasingly aggressive nuclear threat postures between Russia and NATO in Europe, the rising nuclear tensions between China and U.S. allies in the South China sea, and the excessive expenditures (over US$100 billion annually) on nuclear weapons consume resources required and undermine conditions conducive for tackling climate change in a cooperative manner. Further proliferation of nuclear weapons would make this even worse.

Climate change and the continued existence of nuclear weapons stand out as the two principal threats to the survival of humanity. On the long arc of human existence, both threats are relatively new to the scene, having only appeared over the last century. However, both threaten the survival of life on earth as we know it and both are of our making.

Jonathan Schell said it best in his 2007 book The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger: "Anyone concerned by the one should be concerned with the other. It would be a shame to save the Earth from slowly warming only to burn it up in an instant in a nuclear war."

Nuclear energy is neither required for nor capable of solving the climate crisis. Nuclear energy lacks the capacity potential to significantly replace the huge amounts of fossil energy. In addition, the nuclear 'fuel chain' contains a variety of problems and risks, including the release of radioactive materials at every stage of the cycle and trans-generational safety problems from nuclear waste disposal. A very serious problem is the possibility, at various stages of the nuclear fuel chain, to divert nuclear technologies and know-how towards nuclear weapons development.

Climate-nuclear nexus

As the Word Future Council has highlighted in a recent report − The Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Exploring the linkages between climate change and nuclear threats2 − climate change and nuclear weapons interact with each other in additional ways. Conflicts induced or exacerbated by climate change could contribute to global insecurity, which, in turn, could enhance the chance of a nuclear weapon being used, could create more fertile breeding grounds for terrorism, including nuclear terrorism, and could feed the ambitions among some states to acquire nuclear arms.

Furthermore, as evidenced by a series of incidents in recent years, extreme weather events, environmental degradation and major seismic events can directly impact the safety and security of nuclear installations. Moreover, a nuclear war could lead to a rapid and prolonged drop in average global temperatures and significantly disrupt the global climate for years to come, which would have disastrous implications for agriculture, threatening the food supply for most of the world.

Finally, climate change, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy pose threats of intergenerational harm, as evidenced by the transgenerational effects of nuclear testing and nuclear power accidents and the lasting impacts on the climate, environment and public health from carbon emissions.

Overall, the discrepancy between long-term goals and concrete steps undermines the conditions for international cooperation in security and climate policies. Despite growing awareness of the urgency of tackling the climate and nuclear threat among policy-makers, academics and civil society, concrete action is lagging behind.

Why is this so, when considering that renewable energy technologies provide viable alternatives? By harnessing local renewable energy sources, jurisdictions increase their political and energy independency, while the degree of local and international cooperation needed to transition to 100% Renewable Energy can act as a catalyst for cooperation in tackling other transnational security threats. This helps solving geopolitical crises, avoid future armed conflicts triggered by climate instability and resource scarcity, and build cooperative security mechanisms.

Similarly, regional initiatives could attempt to tackle both climatic and security threats. For example, Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones (which already cover the entire Southern Hemisphere) can, in turn, promote regional environmental and climate protection policies, as exemplified by the Antarctic Treaty System. Such action could also be sought in the Arctic, where the effects of climate change and the dangers of nuclear weapons come together as increased competition over resources and the opening up of routes for military maneuvering and posturing, including with nuclear weapons, can heighten tensions between the region's powers.

Finally, there exist international legal obligations both with regard to curbing climate change and achieving universal nuclear disarmament. It is thus not surprising that on both fronts, litigation has been pursued to ensure these obligations are implemented. Climate cases have been filed in several countries, including in the Netherlands, where the Court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, noting that the State has a legal obligation to protect its citizens, ordering the Dutch government to reduce its CO2 emissions by a minimum of 25% (compared to 1990) by 2020.

On the nuclear front, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed applications last year in the International Court of Justice against the nine nuclear-armed states (US, UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea), claiming that they are in breach of obligations relating to nuclear disarmament under the NPT and under customary international law. Cases are proceeding against the three of the nuclear-armed states that have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ--the UK, India, and Pakistan.

For the people of the Marshall Islands, and a rising number of people in other parts of the world, the effects of these two threats are not a theoretical, future issue of concern. Behind the facts and figures are stories of real suffering from climate change and nuclear weapons programmes.

The plight of one group in particular is illustrative of the human impact of the nuclear enterprise and climate change. The inhabitants of the remote Pacific island chain of Bikini Atoll were forced from their homes in the 1940s so that the United States could test its atomic bombs there, bringing with it a legacy of transgenerational effects of radiation exposure, including high cancer rates, birth deformities and environmental poisoning. The lands they had called home were declared uninhabitable.

Now, the tiny patches of earth they were relocated to in the Marshall Islands are at risk of suffering the same fate, as rising sea levels are breaching sea walls, washing over their islands, killing crops and forcing the Bikini Atoll refugees to consider relocating again--this time to foreign continents thousands of miles away. As if to underline the potentially catastrophic convergence of both perils, there is even the danger that rising sea levels could spill the radioactive waste from testing, which has been stored on the islands, into the ocean. Their experience should serve as a cautionary tale. If we don't seize the opportunities soon to rid the world of these threats, we will drift toward a similar fate.



2. Jürgen Scheffran, John Burroughs, Anna Leidreiter, Rob Van Riet, and Alyn Ware, 2015, 'The Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Exploring the linkages between climate change and nuclear threats', World Future Council,

The India-Japan nuclear agreement must be stopped

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Kumar Sundaram - CNDP

On December 12 the Japanese and Indian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (the MoU) regarding nuclear trade. There is still work to do before a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement is concluded, and no timeline has been provided. There is widespread civil society opposition in both countries − and internationally. The Japanese Parliament may yet prove an obstacle, but probably won't.

Sukla Sen from the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) in India bluntly summed up the politics: "The fact that both Japan and India are at the moment ruled by hard right-wing ultra-nationalist outfits having deep links with the business-industrial-nuclear lobbies has definitely helped to take the negotiations ahead."1

If and when the cooperation agreement is finalised, Japan will face the same dilemma as other would-be exporters of nuclear technology to India, in particular India's liability law which does not provide the blanket immunity that suppliers demand. Public opposition to reactor projects in India, and the capital costs of reactors, are further obstacles. The Hindustan Times noted in November 2014 that India's nuclear program is in a "deep freeze" and little has changed since then.2

Kumar Sundaram from the CNDP summarises the problems with the proposed bilateral nuclear agreement:

The India-Japan nuclear agreement would be an international disaster. It would rehabilitate the global nuclear lobby, which is facing its terminal crisis after Fukushima. They are aiming to use the toothless safety laws and corrupt politicians of India, and the general political apathy for the lives of the poor and the environment in the country.

The agreement essentially does three things:

1. It provides a safe home in India for the international nuclear lobbies, where they compensate for their terminal global crisis post-Fukushima and regain the financial health to bounce back globally later.

The Japanese deal is essential for the reactor projects of the US and France to proceed on the ground as some crucial reactor equipment is manufactured only by Japanese companies. Another reason is that the two major US nuclear giants – GE and Westinghouse – have become Japanese-owned companies.

In immediate terms, the deal means six EPR reactors for Areva and four each for GE and Westinghouse. Japan will only supply crucial equipment and there are no turn-key reactor purchase talks so far, so the financial gain for Japan isn't really all that big, but the US and France have been pushing Japan to conclude a deal with India.

2. This deal implies a serious threat to the people of India, particularly the most vulnerable sections in the rural areas, whose lives and livelihoods are at stake. India is imposing these reactor projects at gunpoint against the wishes of the local communities, in ecologically fragile, geologically sensitive areas with dense human populations.

The people – tens of thousands of farmers, fisherfolk, women and children in these areas – depend on the local ecology for their food and livelihoods. These will be threatened both in terms of forced mass eviction for these projects with compensations only for the landed few, as well as the loss of traditional vocations for a larger number around the proposed project sites.

3. The nuclear supply from Japan to India creates a bad precedent for nuclear disarmament. It practically rewards a country which conducted nuclear tests, defying sane advice from within and outside, at a time when the world is looking towards measures to make the nuclear commerce regime more stringent as the number of potential proliferators increases.

The region has two nuclear-armed nations and any small conflict, often used for domestic political purposes, can escalate into a nuclear exchange.

Apart from the above specific negative implications of the deal, the larger context in which India-Japan relations have taken a decisively militarist turn should also not be missed. The first beneficiary of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy of re-starting military exports to foreign countries is going to be India, which will buy the Shin-Meiwa US-2, the amphibious 'rescue' aircraft. The joint exercises in the Indian Ocean by the Indian and U.S. navies have caused anxieties in Pakistan and China and are seen as a part of the larger U.S. design of propping up a Japan-India axis to counter China in the region.

The nuclear deal with Japan also comes at a time when the nuclear energy plans of India are at an important juncture. The new Indian PM – Narendra Modi – belongs to the Hindu-majoritarian BJP, which places strong nationalist pride both on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. During his recent overseas visits in the past 18 months to the U.S., France, Australia, Mongolia and Japan, Modi has strongly pursued nuclear commerce agreements.

India's newly appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Shekhar Basu, almost taking a leaf from Modi's zeal for nuclear power, started his sting with a press conference where he announced that the foreign nuclear suppliers should not be made liable for any accident.

The Indian law, the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, provides for a 'right of recourse' against the nuclear suppliers in case of an accident to the state-owned operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) under Clause 17(b).

The clause was introduced under pressure from Parliament and civil society by a reluctant Manmohan Singh government. At that time there was a public outcry on liability, following the June 2010 Bhopal judgment that let the accused go almost scot-free. This led to a sensitive debate.

Although the Act capped the total liability at a ridiculously low amount and was criticised for its complicated procedural stipulations, it provided for a very limited hook on private suppliers – both foreign and home-grown.

Attempts to dilute and circumvent the liability norm started soon. These included making supplier culpability dependent on an explicit mention of the liability provision in the bilateral contract between the supplier and the operator.

In addition, the Indian government limited the product liability period to just five years under the Nuclear Liability Rules, 2011, designed to guide the implementation of the 2010 Act. Eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee termed the Rules "ultra vires" (beyond the powers) of the Act and going against its spirit.

In his last foreign trip as PM, when Singh went to the United States, he offered "as a gift" a reinterpretation of the liability law. According to that reinterpretation, the operator has the option of not exercising its right of recourse against the supplier. He assured Obama that the public-owned Indian operator will not sue suppliers.

Evidently, even this failed to assuage companies such as GE and Westinghouse. They were uncertain about future Indian governments abiding by such a promise, especially in the wake of public pressure that would follow any big nuclear accident.

The foreign corporations have also been opposed to the Indian law as it is a departure from the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), which they want the world to adopt as an international template. Ironically, India rushed to sign the CSC in October 2010, soon after it enacted the domestic law. It then started citing that as a reason to amend the Parliament-mandated law.

At that time there were fewer CSC signatories. Only in April this year has the Convention entered into force. India had an opportunity, as an attractive investment destination for the nuclear sector, to actually lobby for amendments to the CSC to ensure adequate liability for people in developing countries. Japan's signing of the CSC gave it the required legal status and now it has become a weapon to push other countries to exempt suppliers from liability.

All peace and democracy loving people across the world must demand scrapping of this nuclear agreement between India and Japan. The two Asian countries should instead focus on alternative energy technologies, learning lessons from Fukushima, and focus on reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons in the 70th year of Hiroshima.

The end of non-proliferation

Muhammad Umar from Pakistan's National University of Sciences and Technology discusses the proliferation implications of India's nuclear power and weapons programs:3

It is a well-known fact that India misused a research reactor, which had been supplied to them by the Canadians under peaceful uses conditions (similar to the current export deal with Australia) to illegally produce plutonium for the production of their first nuclear bomb, which they exploded in May of 1974.

At the time a number of states that were already signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in an effort to counter future proliferation, acted swiftly to create the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to control the export and re-transfer of materials that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom spearheaded the creation of this multinational body.

There are 48 members of the NSG today, and it is ironic that nine of the 48 that were so committed to strengthening non-proliferation measures that they developed and/or supported the creation of the NSG as a response to India's nuclear explosion are now willing to supply that same country with nuclear materials, helping it continue to vertically proliferate.

The nine NSG member states that currently have a civil-nuclear deal with India include Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia, France, Argentina, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. There are only two non-NSG member states – Mongolia and Namibia – with a deal to provide India with uranium.

The only major holdout has been Japan but it seems that will likely change by the end of the year as President Abe gears up to visit New Delhi later this month.

The international community led by the US says that they are committed to nuclear non-proliferation but their actions serve as evidence of their hypocrisy. If the US and others want to do business with India and are willing to forego its past as a proliferator, then other weapon states outside the NPT should also be afforded the same privileges.

The Indian case is confirmation that exemptions from the NSG and NPT can be made; in this case the exemptions should be based on criteria and anyone meeting those criteria should be able to conduct business to attain nuclear technology for peaceful uses.

If the criteria-based approach is not doable than the US, along with other states violating their NPT and NSG obligations, should stop talking about norms, morals, and ethics. They should not continue to make a fool out of a more than a hundred and eighty states.

There is no doubt that the Indian case has put the NSG and NPT in dire straits. The short-sighted actions of countries engaging India in nuclear trade have created untold new challenges for international security, and will eventually lead to the collapse of the non-proliferation regime.

There is no doubt in my mind that new nuclear power states will emerge. Having observed the special treatment given to India, it will be easy for them to argue that the NPT no longer holds any power, and is a relic of the past.

When you have countries like the US, Australia, Canada, France, and the UK helping a country like India actively proliferate, it proves that the international non-proliferation regime has failed.

The stark reality is that the idea of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime has been lost to a system of practical geopolitics; all moral and ideological considerations have been tossed aside. There will be no hope for the longevity of the non-proliferation regime if those currently holding out – like Japan – also choose to violate their commitments to the NSG and NPT for the sake of short-term economic incentives. That will truly mean the end of the non-proliferation era.

I foresee a very dangerous future if we continue down this path and let the non-proliferation regime breakdown. This is a future on the edge of a nuclear Armageddon, where more and more states will begin acquiring nuclear weapons as they realise that the non-proliferation regime has collapsed, and NPT and other international treaties and institutions are powerless to stop them from acquiring the bomb.

This failure could be the first domino tile. This should not be acceptable to any of us.


1. Sukla Sen, 14 Dec 2015, 'Nuclear Deal between Japan and India: A Brief Stocktaking',

2. Shishir Gupta and Jayanth Jacob, 30 Nov 2014, 'Govt plans N-revival, focuses on investor concerns',

3. Muhammad Umar, 7 Dec 2015, 'The end of non-proliferation',

More information:


Please sign the petition against the Japan−India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement:

Uranium mining in Malawi: the case of Kayelekera

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Matildah M. Mkandawire − Citizens for Justice, Malawi

Various mining companies have invested in sub-Saharan Africa despite − or perhaps because of − inadequate governance standards.

This is the case in Malawi, where mining is guided by the Environmental Management Act of 1996, the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1983 and the Explosives Act of 1968.

Kayelekera is located in northern Malawi, 52 km west of Karonga. The mine is owned 100% by Paladin (Africa) Limited (PAL), a subsidiary of Paladin Australia. In July 2009, Paladin issued 15% of equity in PAL to the Government of Malawi under the terms of the Development Agreement signed between PAL and the Government in February 2007.

Due to the low uranium price, Paladin announced in February 2014 that processing would cease at Kayelekera and that the site would be placed under care and maintenance. Following a period of reagent run-down, processing was completed in early May 2014. It is expected that production will recommence once the uranium price provides a sufficient incentive (circa US$75/lb) and grid power supply is available on-site to replace the existing diesel generators with low cost hydroelectricity.

As Citizens for Justice, we have worked closely with the community in the Kayelekera area regarding the effects that mining has on their environment, their health, social lives and on their human rights. We want to know how the company intends to manage the tailings as 85% of the original radioactivity is contained in these. Malawi is a densely populated country and any mismanagement could affect a large number of lives. Recently Paladin has had new major shareholders and we seek more clarity on the level of responsibility transfer that has taken place. Do they still maintain the same standards of closure, what is the bond attached to reclamation and who controls the bond? We also want to know which bank holds the money and how much it is.

We insist on this because we have seen the lack of cooperation of Paladin to work with the local communities in their failure to stick to the agreements that were signed for in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kayelekera community.

In August this year, Citizens for Justice and Action Aid Malawi, with support from the Tilitonse Fund, organized an interface meeting with the local communities, government representatives at district level and PAL representatives. The aim of this meeting was to discuss the concerns of the community regarding the failure of Paladin to stick to the agreements in the MOU. Paladin cancelled with us at the 11th hour claiming they needed a formal letter of invitation and not the one they got from the community.

The meeting had to go ahead without them although this left the community furious as the issues they wanted to raise were key to their health and sanitation, environmental health and social well-being. The lack of clean water, and the delay in providing educational and health facilities as agreed, spoke volumes of the company's lack of responsibility for the community it operates in.

Matildah Mkandawire is a project coordinator with Citizens for Justice, heading the Business and Human Rights project and supporting the Responsive Mining and Governance Project that CFJ is implementing with Action Aid Malawi.

Nuclearisation of Africa conference

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Gordon Edwards − Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

The bustling City of Johannesburg ("Joburg") did not exist 130 years ago. Then gold was discovered on a farm in the area, leading to a gold rush, a tent city, and intensive gold mining in the Witwatersrand region of South Africa.

As it happens, the gold ore is also rich in uranium. At many mine sites, uranium is separated out as a byproduct after gold is extracted from the ore. In this way South Africa has become a small but significant uranium producer (about one percent of world production). Meanwhile, mountains of gold-mine tailings continue to pile up everywhere. These sand-like mining wastes are quite radioactive and will remain so for hundreds of millennia.

The tailings contain some of the deadliest naturally-occurring radionuclides known to science. Radium and polonium, uranium and thorium, along with radioactive isotopes of lead and bismuth abound. Radon gas is given off in great quantities, created by the spontaneous disintegration of radium atoms. When the sandy material is used in construction, as it often is, the resulting buildings experience a build-up of radon gas inside. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 20 to 30 thousand Americans die every year from lung cancer caused by breathing radon gas at home.

At the recent "Nuclearisation of Africa" conference in Joburg (November 16−19) I was informed that the radioactive tailings in South Africa are four times greater in volume than the uranium tailings in all other countries combined. Traveling around the region it is easy to appreciate this fact. Countless colossal mounds of uncovered tailings are everywhere to be seen, even within Joburg itself. They are enormous in size, and are often located right beside built-up areas. In some case villages of tin-roofed shacks are perched right on top of the radioactive sand-like materials. Wind carries the yellow dust everywhere, slowed only by irregular patches of vegetation that serve as anchors. Once pristine rivers have become polluted and dewatered with little or no remediation in sight.

Geologists who have worked at mines in the area are often unaware of the radioactive legacy their companies are leaving behind for future generations. A great deal of ignorance prevails.

The four-day "Nuclearisation of Africa" conference was organized by the IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), AUA (African Uranium Alliance), and FSE (Federation for Sustainable Development). The main objective was to assist participants from South Africa, Niger, Congo, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia, to understand and avoid the radioactive legacy of uranium mining, and to prevent the even greater radioactive legacy left behind by nuclear power plants in the form of high-level radioactive waste (irradiated nuclear fuel).

Africa has an abundance of renewable resources and is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the current world-wide trend away from nuclear technology towards genuinely sustainable alternatives. Those alternatives were also highlighted during the four-day conference.

South Africa's nuclear power program

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

Pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman warned in December 2014 that South Africa's nuclear power program would be a bumpy ride: "Almost no one believes that as long as Zuma is in power that anything remotely resembling an orderly procurement process is likely to take place."1

The most recent controversy was President Jacob Zuma's dismissal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on December 9.2,3 And the sacking of his replacement four days later! No reason was provided to justify the decision to sack Nene, who said in August that he wouldn't sign off on the Zuma-led plan for a 9.6 gigawatt nuclear power program if it was unaffordable, and wouldn't be swayed by political meddling.4 No such constraints apply now that Nene has been sacked.

Journalist Ranjeni Munusamy said of the decision to sack Nene: "It was an illogical, irrational decision for which South Africa will pay dearly. For Zuma, it is another accomplishment in his mission to completely capture the state and will ensure unwavering loyalty from those who serve at his pleasure. There will be no defiance in cabinet ever again."2

Mzukisi Qobo from the University of Johannesburg said:3

"The crux of Nene's fall is not easy to decipher. But two factors seem to have driven the final nail into his professional coffin. The first has to do with his hard stance on the country's state-owned airline, South African Airways. ...

"Second, it is apparent that Zuma found the National Treasury, and Nene in particular, a stumbling block to a ; nuclear deal the President is believed to have promised the Russians. It is estimated that the deal could cost as much as R1 trillion [€57 billion; US$63 billion]. Nene's allocation of a mere R200m [€11.4m; US$12.6m] towards research for this programme must have been seen as an insult by Zuma's cronies and insiders. ...

"At the heart of both the South African Airways saga and the nuclear deal is the failure by the country's leadership to adhere to accountability and transparency mechanisms, especially the Public Finance Management Act, as well as to grasp the implications of irrational decision-making on the fiscus and the economy."

Nene's dismissal came days after international ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's downgraded South Africa to one level above junk status, citing the slowing economy and rising debt.2 Reuters reported that the removal of Nene "sent the rand currency to record lows, sparked a sell-off in bank stocks and sent yields in both local and dollar-denominated debt soaring."5

In February 2015, Zuma promised a "fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme." But he clearly favours Russia's Rosatom − if only because of the possibility that Rosatom might provide much of the up-front capital − and has no interest in a "fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process".

Research into the nuclear power plan carried out by the National Treasury has been kept secret − even the fact that the research was being carried out was kept secret.6 And nuclear costing studies by international consultants have been kept secret, and a request to access the reports under the Promotion of Access to Information Act was denied.7

Cost estimates for a 9.6 GW nuclear program range from US$37−100 billion (€34−91b) and there is profound scepticism that it can be financed, even with up-front support from Rosatom.8

In August, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson disputed that plans for a 9.6 GW program were being developed − describing the 9.6 GW figure as "a thumb-suck".9 In all likelihood that nuclear plans will be scaled back. An updated version of a government document − the Integrated Resource Plan − mentions a 4.86 GW nuclear program.

Whether a more modest program can be achieved is no sure bet. There is widespread opposition to the nuclear plan. And previous plans to build reactors came to nothing. In 2007, state energy utility Eskom approved a plan for 20 GW of new nuclear capacity. Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000 were short-listed and bids were submitted. But in 2008 Eskom announced that it would not proceed with either of the bids due to a lack of finance.

Bribery allegations

Anti-corruption NGO Sherpa has filed a case against Areva, alleging corruption related to a mining deal involving uranium assets in South Africa, Namibia and the Central African Republic.10

Uramin's mining interests in the three countries were bought by Areva for a vastly inflated sum in 2007, according to Sherpa. The €1.8 billion paid had to be written off when the mines proved unfeasible.

Areva's involvement in the tender process for the construction of nuclear power plants in South Africa has also been called into question by Sherpa. "Three or four months after the purchase [of Uramin], South Africa made a call for tenders for a nuclear power plant," Sherpa's executive director Laetitia Liebert said. "This conjunction of facts can lead us to suspect that Areva intended to influence high ranking officials."

Areva's offices and the homes of former executives were searched by France's financial prosecutor last year.

Meanwhile, on the same day as Nhlanhla Nene's sacking, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an appeal from Westinghouse against Eskom's 2014 award of a contract for replacement steam generators for the Koeberg nuclear plant to Areva.11 The Court ruled that Eskom had acted unlawfully in the way it reached its decision to award the tender to Areva, by taking into account considerations that lay outside the criteria for the tender. This, the court said, made the award of the tender unlawful and procedurally unfair. The two companies were told before that award of the contract that "strategic considerations" would be taken into account, but not what those considerations would be.


1. Dan Yurman, 6 Dec 2014, 'China jumps into the action in South Africa',

2. Ranjeni Munusamy, 10 Dec 2015, 'Nene out because he angered Zuma over SAA and nuclear deal',

3. Mzukisi Qobo, 11 Dec 2015, 'Why Zuma's actions point to shambolic management of South Africa's economy'

4. Mike Cohen, 27 Aug 2015, 'Opposition mounts to government's nuclear plans', Sunday Times,

5. Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Mfuneko Toyana / Reuters, 13 Dec 2015, 'In U-turn, South Africa's Zuma restores Gordhan to finance ministry',

6. David Maynier, 27 Sept 2015, 'Treasury's work on nuclear energy being kept secret',

7. Carol Paton, 18 Sept 2015, 'Business Day denied nuclear cost reports',

8. Mike Cohen, 6 July 2015, 'Will Putin Pay for $100 Billion South Africa Nuclear Plan?',

9. Carol Paton, 15 Sept 2015, 'Joemat-Pettersson fires point man on nuclear',

10. Daniel Finnan, 9 Dec 2015, 'French nuclear giant Areva accused of bribery in South Africa, Namibia, Central African Republic',

11. WNN, 10 Dec 2015, 'South African court upholds Westinghouse appeal',

World Nuclear Victims Forum

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Abridged from the Declaration of the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima

November 23, 2015

The full Declaration is posted at

We, participants in the World Nuclear Victims Forum, gathered in Hiroshima from November 21 to 23 in 2015, 70 years after the atomic bombings by the U.S. government.

We define the nuclear victims in the narrow sense of not distinguishing between victims of military and industrial nuclear use, including victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of nuclear testing, as well as victims of exposure to radiation and radioactive contamination created by the entire process including uranium mining and milling, and nuclear development, use and waste.

We recall that the radiation, heat and blast of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sacrificed not only Japanese but also Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese and people from other countries there as a result of Japan's colonization and invasion, and Allied prisoners of war. Those who survived "tasted the tortures of hell."

We noted that through the international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons held in Oslo in 2013 and in Nayarit and Vienna in 2014, the understanding is widely shared internationally that the detonation of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic harm to the environment, human health, welfare and society; would jeopardize the survival of the human family; and adequate response is impossible. We warmly welcome the Humanitarian Pledge endorsed by 121 states, pledging to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

We acknowledge that the mining and refining of uranium, nuclear testing, and the disposal of nuclear waste are being carried out based on ongoing colonization, discriminatory oppression, and infringement of indigenous peoples' rights, including their rights to relationships with their ancestral land. These activities impose involuntary exposure to radiation and contaminate the local environment. Thus, the local populations are continually and increasingly deprived of the basic necessities for human life with ever more of them becoming nuclear victims.

We also reconfirmed that every stage of the nuclear chain contaminates the environment and damages the ecosystem, causing a wide array of radiation-related disorders in people and other living beings. Through the experience of the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima, we see that nuclear accidents inevitably expose entire populations living near the power plants and the workers assigned to cope with the accident to harmful levels of radiation, and that adequate response to such a disaster is impossible. We further see that radioactive contamination is inevitably a global phenomenon. We know that "military" and "industrial" nuclear power are intimately connected within a unified nuclear industry, and that every stage of the nuclear chain, including the use of depleted uranium weapons, creates large numbers of new nuclear victims.

Complete prevention of nuclear chain related disasters is impossible. No safe method exists for disposing of ever-increasing volumes of nuclear waste. Nuclear contamination is forever, making it utterly impossible to return the environment to its original state. Thus, we stress that the human family must abandon its use of nuclear energy.

We emphasize that all states that promote nuclear energy, the operators that cause radioactive contamination, and the manufacturers of nuclear facilities including nuclear power plants must bear liability for damages done, as do their shareholders and creditors. We are gravely concerned that the export of nuclear power plants is extremely likely to result in severe human rights abuses and environmental damage.

We condemn the Japanese government for failing to learn from the Fukushima disaster, without carrying out adequate investigations into the facts and impacts, hiding and trivializing the damage, and cutting off assistance to the victims, while investing in the restart and export of nuclear power plants. We oppose the building, operating or exporting of nuclear power plants or any industrial nuclear facility in Japan or any other country.

We call for the termination of uranium mining, milling, nuclear fuel production, nuclear power generation and reprocessing, and for the abolition of the entire nuclear chain.

We call for the urgent conclusion of a legally binding international instrument which prohibits and provides for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

We call for the prohibition of manufacture, possession and use of depleted uranium weapons.

With the momentum of this World Nuclear Victims Forum, we confirm our desire to continue to cooperate in solidarity and share information regarding nuclear victims, and disseminate our message through various methods including art and media.

Thus, as a result of this World Nuclear Victims Forum and in order to convey to the world the draft elements of a World Charter of the Rights of Nuclear Victims, we adopt this Hiroshima Declaration.