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News

Select a news topic from the list below, then select a news article to read.

Bush wants More Cash for Nukes

While much of the world is working toward nuclear disarmament, the Bush Administration has 
asked Congress to fund the first new U.S. nuclear weapons in two decades and requested
additional funding to build a new nuclear bomb making plant.
The budget makes military spending and the Iraq war its focus, proposing a 7.5 per cent increase
for the Pentagon. Military expenditure will top $515bn – plus $70bn more for the conflicts in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The President's Annual Budget requested $10 million for the Reliable
Replacement Warhead (RRW) program and $100 million to begin construction on a new plutonium pit
facility.

"This administration just doesn't seem to get the message. Congress and the people of this country do not want these new weapons," said Devin Helfrich, a lobbyist on nuclear disarmament for the Friends Committee on National Legislation,

UK Offers to Host Disarmament Conference

The UK Government has offered to host a conference of all five recognized nuclear weapon states to address the difficult technical challenges of verifying nuclear disarmament.

British Defence Secretary of State Des Browne made the offer at a speech to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva..

"For the first time, I am proposing to host a conference for technical experts from all five recognized nuclear states, to develop technologies for nuclear disarmament," Des Browne said.

"At the center of this offer are the skills and expertise of UK(United Kingdom) scientists at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Those skills will form the basis of pioneering technical research into nuclear disarmament - to become a 'nuclear disarmament laboratory'," he said.

Sellafield's Facilities are a Shambles

A shock Report, by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate  reveals that Sellafield's .facilities for handling nuclear waste are a shambles and that its safety procedures for preventing accidents – which could kill hundreds of thousands of Britons – are "not fully adequate".

After reprocessing, highly dangerous radioactive liquid waste is concentrated through evaporation and stored above ground in 21 giant steel tanks before being "vitrified" – bound into glass for disposal. But the Report shows that every stage of this process is in crisis.

Two of the three evaporators have been shut due to safety problems, and there are continuing "difficulties" with vitrification. But the most alarming issue is the failure of equipment needed to cool the waste, which could, at worst, lead to an explosion, scattering radioactivity across much of the country. Studies suggest that for every tank that exploded 210,000 people would die from cancer.

The Report also reveals "poor housekeeping standards" in the waste stores, that vital safety inspections are "not fully effective", and it condemns "lack of focus" on "emergency arrangements and fire safety".

Sellafield accepts the Report's findings, but says it has "strengthened management arrangements" and made "improvements" to the plant. This fails to impress the independent nuclear expert John Large, who said: "The Government wants to build new nuclear power stations, but the backend of the process, which deals with their waste, is a shambles."

Nuclear Decommissioning Costs Soar

The cost of decommissioning ageing nuclear power sites has risen "rapidly" in the past few years by £12bn to £73bn, according to an official report.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said costs were rising, even for the most imminent work. It said the industry faced "significant challenges".

Greenpeace says the uncertainty makes building more reactors "reckless".

The estimated £73bn cost of decommissioning the UK's old nuclear sites is 18% higher than an estimate given in 2003.

The NAO report said the sum partly reflected "a more complete assessment of the range of work needed to be done".

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said while there was a better idea about "the scale of the task", the "estimates of costs to the taxpayer had continued to rise".

US silence on W76 delays

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A spokesman for the Y12 complex has refused to say any more about why completion of the upgrade of the W76 Trident warhead has been delayed. 

"I simply can't say. I can't say anything more than I've already said. That is the God's truth.  What we've said is the limit of what we're going to discuss on this particular issue".

Trident Money Should Be Re-Invested

Money earmarked to replace Trident should instead be spent providing a "massive" boost to manufacturing in Scotland, campaigners have urged.

It comes as trades unionists met in Glasgow to discuss the economic impact of not renewing the nuclear weapons system, based at Faslane on the Clyde.

An STUC and Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament joint report claims more jobs would be created in the Scottish economy if the money was used for other purposes.

Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary of the STUC, said: "The funds currently earmarked to replace Trident represent a huge opportunity for investment in the productive economy.

Geological Fault At Dounreay

Dounreay's operators have had to revise their plans to build a new low-level waste dump after discovering their preferred site lies on top of a geological fault-line.

They had been working on flawed information provided by the Nirex agency that drilled a series of boreholes in the early 1990s when Dounreay was being considered as the site for a national intermediate-level nuclear waste dump.

New research has led to the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) moving the location of the dump further north and revising the layout of the six underground concrete vaults.

The changes will prompt a new round of consultation over UKAEA's bid to dispose of up to 175,000 cubic metres of lightly contaminated solid debris, much of which comes from Dounreay.

Delay in US warhead modernisation

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The plan to modernise the US W76 warhead has fallen behind schedule.  The first production unit of W76-1 was due to have been produced by September 2007.

There are issues at the six government plants involved in the Life Extension Programme (LEP). One of the problems is at Y12, Oak Ridge. Y12 is responsible for refurbishing the Secondary part of the warhead. Frank Munger's blog on  Knoxnews reports:

Ted Sherry, the NNSA's chief in Oak Ridge, last month indicated that Y-12 was still grappling with the technical issues on the W76, and said a decision would be made in early 2008 on whether to proceed or how to proceed.

"We have done a lot of up-front work and work on trying to certify that (manufacturing) process, but we have not produced the first production unit", Sherry said

Steven Wyatt, NNSA spokesman, said on 24 January that no decision has yet been made.

As part of the W76 LEP a new processing plant for a non-nuclear special material has been built at Y-12, but the name of the material has not been disclosed.

NATO want First Strike Nuclear Option

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical Manifesto for a new Natoby five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The Manifesto has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato Summit in Bucharest in April.

Scottish Parliament Rejects Nuclear Power

MSPs have voted by 63 to 58 to reject nuclear power, exactly a week after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, committed the UK government to a new generation of such stations.

The Holyrood vote was hailed by SNP ministers as signalling a clean, bright future for Scottish energy.

Jim Mather, the Energy Minister, said: "This vote transforms the terms of the energy debate in Scotland – we now have a Parliament and Government able and willing to take forward Scotland's clean, green energy future. Scotland's energy future is bright."

An alliance of the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens was enough to see the policy through, with the Tories and Labour voting to retain nuclear energy.