Labour Reckon Civil Service Think Their Disarmament Plan is “Brilliant”

How’s this for a conference laugh. Labour’s “Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament” Fabian Hamilton has recounted the tale of what happened when Emily Thornberry met the Foreign Office permanent under-secretary Sir Simon McDonald during the election to discuss the event of a Labour win. The plan for day one: appoint a Cabinet minister with responsibility to disarm the UK…

“Just before the General Election on June 8th, Emily Thornberry and Jennifer Larbie, Head of International Policy for Jeremy’s Office, they went to see Sir Simon McDonald who is the Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, that means by the way that he is the boss, he’s the senior United Kingdom Diplomat… When Emily and Jennifer put to Sir Simon that the idea that if we won on Thursday and if we win in the future – when we win in the future – we will create, because it’s in the manifesto, a Minister, a Secretary of State, a Cabinet role, for Peace and Disarmament, and that would include the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. And McDonald’s reply was: ‘Brilliant, that’s a really good idea.'”

Oh to have seen Sir Simon’s face…

Speaking at a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament fringe meeting, Hamilton also recounted a phone call with Corbyn during which he said the Labour leader reiterated his opposition to nuclear weapons:

“He [Jeremy Corbyn] said: ‘You and I have been active in Parliamentary CND and I have always taken the view that our independent nuclear deterrent is a waste of money and worse.'”

A member of Labour’s National Policy Forum outlined plans to bring forward motions at next year’s conference to make nuclear disarmament official party policy. George Downs said scrapping nukes was “Jeremy’s vision” and the left’s capture of the party’s Conference Arrangements Committee could be used to bring it about:

“Fingers crossed this time next year we will be debating the National Policy Forum Report which includes nuclear disarmament, but if not a contemporary motion which isn’t ruled out of order by this new Conference Arrangements Committee, and we can get Labour Party policy which is in line with Jeremy’s vision.”

Could unilateral disarmament become official Labour policy this time next year?

SMR Mini-Nuclear Plants Could Produce Cheap Energy

This morning Policy Exchange hosted an event about small modular reactors (SMRs) – the technology is derived from nuclear-powered submarine systems. A consortium led by Rolls Royce is pushing the idea of using new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of older plant designs. The mini-plants would be made in factories to be re-assembled on site much more quickly and cheaply than large-scale projects like HinkleyRolls-Royce reckons the global export market could be worth as much as £400 billion for the made-in-Britain technology.

The report claims that the mini-plants would produce power at £60/MWh, which is far more competitive than the £92/MWh strike price guaranteed to Hinkley by George Osborne. It is clear that as old power stations are decommissioned Britain is going to need to replace them – wind is too intermittent to make up for the loss of capacity – nuclear is going to have to be part of the energy supply mix. Hinkley type technology is just too expensive.

Download the report Small Modular Reactors.

Meltdown After Nuclear Power Plant Holds Bikini Contest to Choose Interns

A Czech nuclear power plant operator has apologised for using a bikini contest to choose its next intern. Power generation conglomerate CEZ had 10 bikini-clad high school graduates pose in a cooling tower of its Temelin nuclear power plant with the most popular following a Facebook vote winning a 14 day internship at the plant. A local TV station covered the finals:

In a press release CEZ likened the photoshoot to its previous cultural enrichment programs, such as hosting the Bohemian Philharmonic at the plant in South Bohemia. They said the experience was greatly enjoyed by the girls, who were required for safety reasons to wear hard hats and enclosed shoes at all times in the Czech Republic’s largest power station.

Gaia thinks this is yet another terrible case of everyday sexism…

Corbyn Nuked

The most wounding moment of the night: Corbyn takes a battering from several audience members on nuclear weapons and then refuses to answer an audience member entirely. The tittering and laughter from the audience said it all… Corbyn found out at last?

Taxpayer Billed £100 Million After Government Breached EU Procurement Rules

The taxpayer has been hit with a £100 million bill after the government breached EU procurement rules over a contract to decommission nuclear power plants. Business Secretary Greg Clark today confirmed the compensation will be paid to American companies Energy Solutions and Bechtel after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority awarded the £6 billion contract to Cavendish Fluor Group. Energy Solutions argued the decision breached the EU’s public procurement rules as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority did not “award the contract to the most economically advantageous tenderer”. This went against the EU’s Public Sector Directive, and therefore Energy Solutions were qualified for a remedy under the Remedies Directive. A giant cock-up by the government, but it’s EU law that has cost the taxpayer the equivalent of the salaries of 4,500 NHS nurses…

Russian Spy Professor Praised Corbyn’s Nukes Policy

A Bath university professor exposed as a Russian spy wrote an article praising Jeremy Corbyn’s declaration that he “would not push the nuclear button”. Timo Kivimaki, a professor of international relations at Bath, was found guilty and jailed for passing information to Russian ‘diplomats’ in Denmark in 2012. In 2015, when Corbyn said he would never use nuclear weapons if he became PM, Professor Kivimaki wrote an article for Bath university’s website agreeing with the Labour leader and arguing that Britain’s nuclear deterrent is unethical, not credible and “an unconvincing foundation for the country’s security”.

“Jeremy Corbyn is right that the prospect of a second strike cannot safeguard the country against well hidden terrorists…

Is it… ethically possible for the United Kingdom to base its strategic thinking on a doctrine of nuclear deterrence that targets civilians in order to influence UK’s enemies. Given the ethical restrictions is the strategy of nuclear deterrent credible even when the prime minister is someone else than Jeremy Corbyn? 

In addition to moral dilemmas nuclear deterrence poses also practical dilemmas. Is the strategy of second strike credible any longer?… 

The foundation of British strategic security requires ideas and assumptions that we can no longer be sure of. Regardless of what the opposition leader says, on the long run nuclear deterrence seems an unconvincing foundation for the country’s security. While material foundations might remain the same, ideas that give them meanings change and this is a reality that was not born in the recent speech by Jeremy Corbyn.”

Hiding in plain sight…

Anti-Nukes Nat Made Case For Nuclear Deterrent in 2005

kerevan

The attention-seeking Nat who asked Theresa May if she would “kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women and children” yesterday was George Kerevan. The SNP MP has today written a long piece in the National explaining why the nuclear deterrent has been a disaster “for decades”:

“For decades, maintaining the so-called independent deterrent has detracted from delivering a successful civilian industrial policy… Instead, let’s spend the £100bn Trident 2 will cost on revitalising industry for civilian and export purposes. And finally end the pretence that Britain’s nuclear deterrent is anything but Labour’s long-time vanity project.”

Of course, in 2005 the very same George Kerevan wrote in the Scotsman about his support for keeping Britain’s nukes:

“Nuclear proliferation is a fact of global life. Anyone who really thinks Britain giving up its nuclear stockpile will persuade the Iranians to play ball is hopelessly naive and probably lives in New Zealand (which no one is going to nuke anyway). For that reason, Britain should hang on to a minimum nuclear deterrent until there’s enough democracy around to feel safer.”

Former Scotsman editor Iain Martin recalls how “George was v hawkish post-9/11” and remembers him being “v pro nuclear deterrent” in leader conferences. Usually CND types like George grow up and ditch their unilateralism, not the other way round…

UPDATE: David Roach, the Tory candidate who stood against George Kerevan in the last general election says that he advocated that the UK should set an example to the world and unilaterally disarm.

“I used to repeatedly ask him in hustings how long he thought it would be before Russia, North Korea and Pakistan would follow that example. Suffice to say he never answered. Just kept dodging it and would say he had a Damascus moment while researching for a piece on America’s nuclear capability when he was a journalist at The Scotsman.”

Nothing to do with it being a pre-requisite for would be SNP candidates hoping for selection…

US Nuclear Power Station Took 43 Years to Finish

hinckley

As news breaks that the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point could cost an additional £3 billion, a smaller story from the US serves as a stark warning of the risks when building new plants.

Watts Bar nuclear power plant’s second reactor is scheduled to finally go into operation this summer. This project has taken 43 years, with shifting regulations, unsure demand and spiralling costs all helping to create a stop-start pantomime.

There has been criticism about the decision to build an EPR reactor at Hinkley Point, seen as overly expensive and previously dogged by severe delays – Finland cancelled their new EPR reactor last year after the project had gone over budget and schedule, France saw the cost of one such project nearly treble, and China is facing significant delays on the construction of its own EPRs. In fact, since the first order was placed in 2003, not one of French company Areva’s EPR plants have been completed: of the three EPR reactor projects signed up to so far, one is delayed, one is delayed and over budget, and the other is cancelled. These are the reactors Britain will likely be lumbered with…

News of these delays, and the lessons from America, should be of concern to DECC. Having already signed up to the most generous nuclear subsidy package in history, there is a real danger that Hinkley Point C becomes a mega-watt white elephant. French company EDF has refused to sign on the dotted line until summer. There is still time for a strategic re-think…

Corbyn: Nuclear Weapons Didn’t do USA Much Good on 9/11

corbyn

After winding up his new defence secretary Angela Eagle by declaring that he wouldn’t press the nuclear button, Corbyn has weighed further into the nuclear debate this afternoon:

“Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction that take out millions of civilians. They didn’t do the USA much good on 9/11.”

Handled with typical deftness and sensitivity…

H/T: @rosschawkins

UPDATE: The Vine is in

Osborne Paying Double the Market Rate For Nuclear Energy

The-Osborne-Austerity1[1]

Amber Rudd’s green crap purge continues today with the announcement by Osborne that the government will guarantee £2 billion of support for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Osborne hopes the multi-billion pound promise will tempt the Chinese backed French energy company EDF to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in 20 years. It will also be, by some way, the most expensive…

As enjoyable as it is to watch the Greenpeace crowd lose it over Hinkley Point, serious questions are being asked about the financing of the deal. Osborne is guaranteeing £89.50 to EDF for every MW/hr of electricity they produce; the current price per MW/hr of wholesale electricity in the UK is £44. If only there was some sort of abundant, clean and cheap energy lying trapped underground in our shale formations…



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