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Category Archives: Life Extension

New Survey Reveals 74 Percent of Americans are Concerned that Vitamins and Supplements are not Backed by Trustworthy Research – PRNewswire

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 12:44 am

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --When it comes to choosing the right vitamin, 74 percent of Americans are concerned that the advertised or promised benefits of vitamins and supplements are not backed by trustworthy research. As Americans begin to focus more on overall health and wellness, Life Extension, the health solutions expert translating scientific research for over 40 years into premium, clinically studied vitamins and supplements, wants to help consumers take away the guesswork when selecting the right vitamins and supplements to maintain their whole health, self-care.

To highlight the importance of choosing the best options, a new survey conducted by Life Extension revealed there is a clear crisis in confidence with Americans when it comes to their vitamin and supplement options. While nearly all supplement users (92 percent) believe that ingredients are important when purchasing a vitamin, two-fifths (42 percent) do not research the ingredients when considering which product to choose.

"Better health and quality of life are the biggest motivators when taking vitamins and supplements, but unfortunately, many people don't know where to start and how to find a trusted resource," said Michael Smith, MD and Life Extension Education Director. "That's why at Life Extension we make it easy to find high quality, research-backed vitamins and supplements. We offer free Wellness Specialists to answer questions prior to taking a vitamin or supplement and laboratory panel testing to help personalize supplement choices."

Additional survey highlights include:

The survey found that while Americans want their vitamins to work, they are not putting in the work to find the right ones for them. Roughly three-quarters of supplement users do not research factors that determine or contribute to the overall effectiveness of the products they are spending their money on, such as third-party testing (75 percent), industry certifications (73 percent) or where the product is made (72 percent). Life Extension researches, test and retest every ingredient in all of their products, and pride themselves on their quality clinical research to substantiate ingredient benefits and the efficacy of their formulations. Constant scrutiny of published scientific findings is used to establish optimal dosages for maximum benefit.

Find out more about the Vitamin and Supplement Buyer Confidence and Knowledge Survey

Survey Methodology

These highlights present the findings of an online survey conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Americans 18 years of age and older, who live in the United States and take a vitamin or supplement at least 2-3 times a week. The total sample data is nationally representative based on age, gender, ethnicity, region, household income and educational attainment. The online survey was conducted by Lucid and completed between January 28th and February 4th, 2020. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/- 2.53 percentage points.

About Life Extension

Life Extension is the health solutions expert that is translating scientific research into everyday insights for people wanting to live their healthiest lives. For nearly 40 years, Life Extension has pursued innovative advances in health, conducting rigorous clinical trials and setting some of the most demanding standards in the industry to offer a full range of quality nutritional vitamins and supplements and blood-testing services. Life Extension's Wellness Specialists provide personalized counsel to help customers choose the right products for optimal health, nutrition and personal care. To learn more, visit LifeExtension.com.

SOURCE Life Extension

https://www.lifeextension.com

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New Survey Reveals 74 Percent of Americans are Concerned that Vitamins and Supplements are not Backed by Trustworthy Research - PRNewswire

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Maintaining health and nutrition while staying at home – WSAW

Posted: at 12:44 am

(WZAW) -- The disruption to everyday life has impacted our mental and physical health. Focusing on ones health is more important than ever, and now is the right time to evaluate and improve your diet and learn more about what vitamins and supplements are needed and where to get them.

A new survey conducted by Life Extension reveals 39% of American supplement takers are motivated to take vitamins because they believe their diet is lacking and vitamins and/or supplements help them make up for it, but while nearly 92% of the users believe the ingredients are important when purchasing, 42% dont research the ingredients when considering which product to choose. Additionally, many respondents 74% are concerned the benefits of supplements are not backed by trustworthy research.

On Tuesday, registered dietitian Maya Feller joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 to share tips to help Americans live their healthiest lives, including supplement recommendations for specific deficiencies.

The best ways to get your nutrients from food is to really look to foods that are in whole or minimally processed form. So, things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, with limited added sugars, salt and synthetic fat, Feller explained. Its going to give your body a plethora of access to vitamins and minerals.

If you arent eating those foods, Feller said its important to fill those nutrient gaps. Thats when you can introduce supplements.

When were thinking about supplementation, safe supplementation is key.

She said people can learn if a nutrient or supplement is right for them by is to get a lab test done.

They can go to lifeextension.com and request a lab panel right there. They can then take that result back to a Life Extension wellness expert, or they can take it to their primary care provider or dietician, Feller explained. That way the supplementation can really be individualized, so that people are taking the correct dosage at the right frequency in intervals over the right period of time.

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Maintaining health and nutrition while staying at home - WSAW

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Why a decision on a second US plutonium-pit-production factory should be delayed – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Posted: at 12:44 am

The troubled Mixed-oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility project at the Savannah River Site is proposed to be transformed into a plutonium pit production facility. Photo (c) Timothy Mousseau, 2019.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the organization within the Energy Department that is responsible for producing and maintaining US nuclear warheads, is moving forward with a plan to build a plutonium-pit-production factory at DOEs Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Pits are the form of the plutonium in the fission trigger primaries of US two-stage nuclear warheads.

The primary motivation for this move is lack of confidence in the pit-production capacity at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has been responsible for preserving US pit production expertise since production at the Rocky Flats Plant outside of Denver shut down at the end of the Cold War. There are also political motivations, including filling the jobs gap at the Savannah River Site resulting from the collapse of NNSAs effort to build a Mixed-oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility there to process some of its excess Cold War plutonium pits into power reactor fuel.

NNSAs rush forward may result in a debacle on top of a debacle. If the experts at Los Alamos cant manage pit production there, why does NNSA think that they can design and train the staff to operate a pit-production facility at the Savannah River Site?

Also, the United States need for pits is unclear at the moment. In 2007, the pits produced at Rocky Flatsnow 30 to 40 years oldwere pronounced to be good for at least a century and, in 2012, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory upped the durability estimate to 150 years. NNSA did not support the necessary research to solidify this conclusion, howeveran oversight that it now promises to remedy.

The NNSA also claims that it needs to produce new pits for two types of safer primaries for two new nuclear warheads, but there seem to be enough already-existing pits for one of the warheads, and the design for the second has not yet been decided.

Thus, there are multiple arguments for delaying a decision on the proposed second pit-production facility for a decade or so. By then, Los Alamos should have mastered the production of pits, the longevity of the legacy pits will be better established, and the need for pits not available in the legacy stockpile should be clarified.

Pits, the critical components. Each US nuclear warhead contains a miniature advanced version of the Nagasaki nuclear bomb weighing only about two percent of what the original Nagasaki bomb weighed. This primary is built around a hollow shell of plutonium, which is surrounded by chemical explosive.

If that explosive is triggered, the pit will be imploded rapidly into a spherical solid mass compressed to perhaps twice the normal density of plutonium. Near the point of maximum density, before the plutonium begins to bounce back to its normal density, a small neutron generator will spray it with a burst of neutrons that will initiate exponentially multiplying fission chain reactions. Within a microsecond, about 20 grams of the plutonium will fission, releasing energy equivalent to the explosion of about 300 tons of TNT, heating the material in the primary to about a million degrees Centigrade.

At that temperature, fusion reactions will occur in the several grams of tritium and deuterium that were injected into the hollow pit just before the implosion. Those fusion reactions will produce an intense burst of neutrons that fission hundreds more grams of plutonium, boosting the energy of the fission explosion to the equivalent of about 10,000 tons of TNT, half the power of the Nagasaki bomb.

At that point, the primary will be so hot that its glow will be mostly X-rays that will fill the radiation case surrounding the primary and a secondary nuclear explosive nested next to it. The X-rays will vaporize the outer layer of the secondary, imploding and heating it and igniting a mix of fusion and fission reactions that, depending on the warhead, will release from a few times to 25 times the energy of the Nagasaki bomb from a warhead about one-twentieth the weight of the 4.4 ton Nagasaki bomb.

Will aging pits still work? The last nuclear test of a US primary was conducted in 1992, when Congress imposed a moratorium on US nuclear testing, launching negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the United States signed in 1996. The treaty has not come into force because eight countries, including the United States, have not ratified it; nevertheless, it appears to have moral if not legal force. No country other than North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon since 1998, and North Korea stopped in 2017.

Despite the lack of US testing, there is no doubt that the primaries in US nuclear warheads will implode or that, if the primary works, the secondary will explode. The issues that have been raised relate to whether the plutonium might become brittle and fragment as it implodes, and whether, if that happened, the tritium-deuterium boost gas would ignite. The NNSA spends billions of dollars each year investigating this question with ever-more-refined computer simulations of what happens inside a pit during its implosion and tests of the behavior of aging plutonium under shock, including in subcritical tests in tunnels deep under the former Nevada Test Site.

Every year, the three NNSA weapon labsLivermore, Los Alamos, and Sandiaand the US Strategic Command, which would deliver most US warheads in a nuclear war, go through an elaborate review process of the condition of the warheads and of the simulations, including by red teams of skeptics, before they certify to Congress, via the secretaries of Defense and Energy and then the president, that they are confident the warheads would work and that no tests are required.

During the Cold War nuclear arms race, pits and other weapon components were replaced regularly as one generation of nuclear weapons succeeded another. That evolution stopped with the end of nuclear testing. Today, most of the US warheads have undergone or are going through a life-extension process, with most components being replaced. The pits themselves are not yet being replaced, however. The United States has not been making new pits in significant numbers since 1989 when the FBI and Environmental Protection Agency raided the Energy Departments pit production plant at Rocky Flats outside Denver for environmental crimes. The plant was subsequently razed. (See former Bulletin editor Len Acklands 1999 book, Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West.

That the US is not able to replace the pits has become a perennial point of anxiety for the US nuclear-weapon establishment and its congressional overseers. Proposals have been made, but no new pit production facilities have been builtin part because the pits made by Rocky Flats have proven remarkably durable. They are sealed and plated, and they have suffered virtually no corrosion. The main question is whether the emission of alpha particles (helium nuclei) by the slow decay of the plutonium is changing the mechanical properties of the material.

In 2005, Congress directed the NNSAs administrator to commission an independent review of the efforts at the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore laboratories to estimate pit lifetimes. The review was carried out by JASON, a group of experts, mostly academics, who do summer studies on issues of interest to the Defense and Energy departments. An unclassified summary of the groups findings was released in early 2007.

Los Alamos and Livermore had been analyzing the effects of plutonium aging on the functionality of US pits. They also had been doing accelerated-aging experiments on samples of the plutonium alloy used in US pits by spiking them with plutonium-238, which decays by alpha emission with a half-life of 88 years, versus the 24,000 years for the dominant isotope in weapon-grade plutonium, Pu-239.

The summary conclusion of the 2007 JASON report was:

We judge that the Los Alamos/Livermore assessment provides a scientifically valid framework for evaluating pit lifetimes. The assessment demonstrates that there is no degradation in performance of primaries of stockpile systems due to plutonium aging that would be cause for near-term concern regarding their safety and reliability. Most primary types have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years as regards aging of plutonium; those with assessed minimum lifetimes of 100 years or less have clear mitigation paths that are proposed and/or being implemented.

The JASON report also recommended additional research (pp. 17-18):

to gain experience with Pu that has suffered the equivalent of a century or more of aging (i.e., with accelerated aging), thereby allowing an interpolation rather than an extrapolation in estimating performance changes and degradation due to aging. In particular, one wants to know the modes of failure that will be among the first to appear, because these can inform the stockpile surveillance program in order to make it most sensitive to aging-induced degradation [and] ongoing study of the current accelerated-aging Pu samples, which are spiked with the rapidly-decaying 238Pu, as well as production of samples that have been aged by alternative means. In all of these cases, the objective is to get the equivalent of multi-century experience on aging phenomena, associated with decay (e.g., radiation damage) as well as with activated processes such as annealing.

Some work on accelerated aging did continue and, in 2012, the Livermore lab reported, no unexpected aging issues are appearing in plutonium that has been accelerated to an equivalent of ~ 150 years of age.

Livermores deputy program leader for enhanced surveillance of pit aging stated, In the near term, the nation can save tens of billions of dollars that might be required to build a new production facility.

Pit-production problems at Los Alamos. In 1999, to maintain US pit-production expertise, the Energy Department instructed Los Alamos to establish pit production capacity of up to 20 pits per year within its large PF-4 plutonium facility. Surprisingly, however, despite the history of Rocky Flats having routinely produced 1,000 to 2,000 pits per year, Los Alamos has struggled to produce a small number of pits, even though the lab has spent billions of dollars on pit-production efforts.

In 1996, the Energy Department tasked Los Alamos to produce 31 war reserve pits for the W88, the high-yield warhead for US ballistic missile submarines, for an order that had not been completed because of the shutdown of the Rocky Flats plant. It took 16 yearsuntil 2012to fabricate the pits. Eleven were produced in 2007 but then a declining number annually thereafter.

The plan was to transition to producing pits for additional W87 warheads for the US Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. In 2013, however, pit production at Los Alamos was shut down because of inadequate worker safety training and concerns about potential plutonium criticality accidents. Seven years later, pit production is still shut down at Los Alamos and the expectation is that this situation will continue until 2023.

NNSAs budget submission for fiscal year 2021 states that Los Alamos is engaged in activities to hire, train, qualify, and retain required pit production personnel, recapitalization of equipment needed to restore Plutonium Facility (PF)-4s ability to produce War Reserve (WR) [pits,] towards producing the first WR pit during 2023 [and] manage capital acquisitions to increase production capability of PF-4 to produce 10 pits per year.

The cost of the planned upgrades to PF-4 is estimated at $1.75 billion through fiscal 2025.

Eighty pits per year? In 2008, the departments of Defense and Energy decided that the United States needed a pit production capacity of 50 to 80 pits per year. This range was based on the very rough computation that it would take 30 to 90 years to replace the pits in a US stockpile of 2,500 to 4,500 warheads at that rate. It was assumed that the production could be carried out at Los Alamos.

But Los Alamos continued to flounder. In 2014, Congress backed the goal of 50 to 80 pits per year with a sense of Congress statement (which does not have the force of law) backing a requirement of a production capacity of 30 pits per year by 2026 and a demonstration over 90 days during the following year of a production rate of 80 pits per year. In 2019, the date of that goal slipped to 2030, but, in the Defense Authorization Act of 2020, Congress added the message that any further delay to achieving a plutonium sustainment capability to support the planned stockpile life extension programs will result in an unacceptable capability gap to our deterrent posture.

The Trump administrations 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which also does not have the force of law turned these various assertions into a requirement for an enduring capability and capacity to produce plutonium pits at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030.

Two pit production facilities? After an initial expenditure of $7 billion on construction of a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site to fabricate excess Cold War plutonium into reactor fuel, the cost continued to grow: It was estimated that the cost to completion of that NNSA project had climbed to $30 billionfor a program that Congress had originally been told would cost $2 billion. Congress voted to shut the project down and, in early 2018, the Trump Administration agreed, raising the question of what to do with the fortress structure that had been built and how to compensate the South Carolina delegationespecially its powerful leader, Sen. Lindsey Grahamfor the loss of jobs the cancellation of the MOX plant entailed.

In this context, the idea was born to divide the pit-production mission between Los Alamos and Savannah River.

In 2018, the Defense Department and the NNSA issued a joint statement asserting that there would be two pit-production facilities: one at Los Alamos producing at least 30 pits per year and one at Savannah River producing at least 50 pits per year. In this way, the 2008 goal of demonstrating a production capability of 50 to 80 pits per year at Los Alamos had 10 years later become a minimum combined production rate of 80 pits per year at Los Alamos and Savannah River.

Updating the pit durability estimate. Meanwhile, the question remained as to what a decade of additional research at Los Alamos and Livermore had revealed about the lifetimes of the legacy pits.

In March 2018, the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its report on the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for fiscal 2019, directed the NNSA administrator to contract with JASON to do an update on its 2007 report on expectations for the longevity of the Rocky Flats legacy pits. The instruction was that JASON should be contracted to assess the efforts of the NNSA to understand plutonium aging and the lifetime of plutonium pits in nuclear weapons [and] include recommendations of the study for improving the knowledge, understanding, and application of the fundamental and applied sciences related to the study of plutonium aging and pit lifetimes, an estimate of minimum and likely lifetimes for pits in current warheads, and the feasibility of reusing pits in modified nuclear weapons. The report shall be submitted in unclassified form but may include a classified annex.

The Senate instructed the NNSA administrator to make available all information that is necessary to successfully complete a meaningful study on a timely basis.

A year and a half later, in November 2019, after a near-death experience at the hands of the Trump administration, JASON submitted a three-page letter report informing Congress that it could not update its previous estimate because, in general, studies on Pu aging and its impacts on the performance of nuclear-weapon primaries have not been sufficiently prioritized over the past decade. A focused program of experiments, theory, and simulations is required to determine the timescales over which Pu aging may lead to an unacceptable degradation of primary performance.

The JASON letter also suggested that, contrary to Congresss instruction, NNSA had not cooperated adequately with the review: The labs briefly presented their program to address Pu aging to JASON. The plan seemed sensible, but a detailed JASON assessment would require additional information about the program as well as technical details.

Laudably, NNSA was embarrassed and, in April 2020, administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty informed the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that her agency planned to fund a second phase of the JASON study during the summer of 2020 to [a]ssess the need for the full study, and if deemed necessary and timely, perform a more detailed, multi-year JASON study.

The letter also stated that NNSA has launched an enhanced program focused on understanding the potential effects of plutonium radioactive decay, or aging, on pit performance.

Other needs for new pits? In addition to the potential need to replace pits because they are aging, NNSA also is advocating the new production facility to produce pits with enhanced safety features to meet NNSA and DoD requirements.

This quest goes back 30 years, to the launch of the Stockpile Stewardship Program by the Clinton Administration. At the time, the weapon labs proposed to replace the W78 ICBM warhead and the W76 and W88 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warheads with new warheads containing insensitive high explosive. That proposal has been sustained over the decades since through a number of incarnations, including proposals for warheads that would be interoperable between the ICBMs and SLBMs.

The purpose of insensitive high explosive is not to reduce the probability of an accidental nuclear explosion. Other elements of the safety design are supposed to do that, and, to date, no warhead accident has resulted in a nuclear yield.

The benefit from the use of insensitive high explosive would be to reduce the number of accidents in which the chemical explosive around a pit is detonated and plutonium is dispersed. There were many such accidents involving aircraft-carried warheads prior to the decision not to fly nuclear-armed aircraft in peacetime. The most famous was the collision of a nuclear-armed B-52 strategic bomber with its refueling tanker over Spain in 1966, which resulted in a large area of plutonium contamination on the ground, requiring 1,600 US military personnel to be deployed for up to 12 weeks, working with minimal protection, gathering contaminated dirt and crops into barrels for shipment back to the US for burial on the Savannah River Site. The Navy has had no such accidents with its SLBM warheads, however, and believes that reducing the risk significantly would require redesigning its Trident missile as well as their warheads. It therefore has in the past not been willing to invest in adapting new insensitive high explosive warheads to its missiles, a process that would include flight tests.

It appears, however, that the Navy has finally acquiesced or been overruled on this matter, and the plan is to replace its two SLBM warheads, the W76 and W88, with new warheads that use insensitive high explosive.

The current proposal is to build two new warheads. The first is the W87-1, which would replace the W-78 on the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, the successor to the Minuteman III missile, and potentially also the W-88, the high-yield warhead on the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile. A second warhead, sometimes referred to as the W93, would replace the W76.

The pit of the W87-1 would be identical to the pit of the W87-0, which is currently deployed on the Minuteman III, and is to be used on the Ground-based Strategic Deterrent. The 400 Minuteman IIIs are to be replaced one-for-one with the new ICBM, which, like the Minuteman III, is to be deployed with only a single warhead per missile.

The Defense Department reportedly has 540 W87-0s in stock, of which 200 are deployed on the Minuteman III along with 200 W78s. Therefore, the W78s could be replaced with stored W87s. The department wishes, however, to preserve the option of loading more warheads onto the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, in case of a breakdown in nuclear arms control with Russia. This has been called a warhead upload hedge since the Clinton administration. To load up 400 of the new missiles with three warheads each would require 1200 warheads, which would require more W87-1s and therefore more pits.

No realistic circumstance that would require uploading the US ICBMs has been suggested, however. The Joint Chiefs reportedly informed President Obama that they could cover all essential targets in potential adversary nations with one third fewer warheads than the 1,550 counted warheads that are allowed by New START. Further, Minuteman IIIs were downloaded to one warhead each after the end of the Cold War to make the deterrent relationship with Russia more stable. After the downloading, destroying one US warhead in a first strike would, on average, require more than one Russian warhead.

Beyond those arguments against uploading, many respected defense experts, including former Defense Secretary William Perry, argue that the US should abandon fixed land-based ICBMs altogether, because Strategic Command insists on keeping them in a dangerous launch-on-warning posture.

Little firm information has been made public about the design of the proposed W93 warhead for submarine-launched nuclear missiles. In fact, NNSAs Fiscal Year 2020 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan describes the Next Navy Warhead, as not yet an established program of record.

An anonymous senior defense official has offered the reassurance, however, that the W93 would be previously nuclear-tested designs, its not going to require any nuclear testing. This must mean that a previously tested insensitive high explosive primary would be used.

In 1990, in hearings before the Senate Appropriations Committees Subcommittee on Energy and Water, the Energy Departments then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Military Applications listed all US nuclear warheads with insensitive high explosive, including warheads that had been produced and deployed and some that had been tested but not deployed as a result of the end of the Cold War. The candidate warhead that has been discussed for three decades is the W89, one of the warheads that was tested but not produced. The W89 was to use recycled pits. According to one report, the pits were to be from the W68, a previous-generation SLBM warhead for which thousands of pits were produced during the 1970s. If that option were pursued, and the W68 pits were found to be still functional, no new pit production would be required.

The decision on the second pit production facility can wait. NNSA could announce its decision to move forward on building a pit-production facility in South Carolina as early as September. Based on the above context, this decision should be delayed for a number of reasons:

1. Since the Savannah River Site staff has no experience with pit production, the facility would have to be designed and the staff trained by the Los Alamos group. But the Los Alamos group has not yet demonstrated that that it can design and staff its own pit production facility.2. Within a decade, we should have a new lower limit on the functional lives of the legacy pits. If they will indeed last for at least 150 years, as the Livermore experts concluded, then there will be no need for a large production facility to replace them anytime soon. The Los Alamos facility, if it can be made operational, should be sufficient for some decades.3. The argument for producing additional warheads with insensitive high explosive for the Minuteman III replacement is very weak, and the debate over the need to produce new pits for a warhead to replace the W-76, the most numerous warhead in the US operational stock (about 1,500) cannot be made until NNSA and Defense Department are ready to discuss what pit they would use in the W93.

We can wait for another decade before we decide on whether the United States requires two pit production facilities. Indeed, we can wait for another decade before we decide on whether we need any new pits at all.

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Why a decision on a second US plutonium-pit-production factory should be delayed - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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The Role Of Nuclear Power In A Clean Energy System – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 12:44 am

In the case of nuclear fade, the European Union sees the most significant decline in capacity in absolute terms at over 100 GW. Of the 126 reactors in operation, 89 are set to be decommissioned by 2030 without further extensions. By 2040, just 15 of the existing reactors are still in operation, complemented by four reactors that are under construction. The fade will most impact publicly traded utilities in Germany and Scandinavian countries, but most reactors in Europe are state-owned, limiting the potential impact on investors.

The decline in nuclear capacity in the United States is less severe than in the European Union as most of the fleet has received 20-year life extensions. Still, nuclear capacity in the United States would fall by half over the next twenty years. The publicly traded utilities most exposed to this decline are Exelon, who owns 21 reactors, Entergy, who owns eight reactors, and Duke Energy, who owns 11. Several utilities own two or more reactors such as Dominion, Pacific Gas, and Electric, MidAmerica, and NextEra. Utility investors should be aware that extending the life of a nuclear reactor is often the cheapest route towards maintaining current production levels. A lifetime extension for a reactor typically requires a capital investment of between $500 million to $1 billion but results in operations that produce electricity at a levelized cost of between $40 and $55 per MWh, making it competitive with most new-build generation projects.

A sharp reduction in nuclear power output in advanced economies may increase the use of natural gas and defer the retirement of coal power. Estimates suggest that coal generation may increase by 4% and natural gas generation by 7%. If true, the incremental CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2040 would be equivalent to the CO2 emissions from China's entire power sector in 2018. To fill the capacity gap in a nuclear fad scenario, $210 billion of new investment in power plants and $120 billion in grid connections would be required. This is $340 billion in new investment to fill a capacity gap that could be covered by spending $170 billion to extend the useful life of the nuclear fleet.

In addition to upfront capital costs, the ongoing costs of production may also prove more expensive.

The IEA estimates that the additional cost of supplying electricity in a nuclear fade environment would be $40 billion a year on top of the additional Capex, an additional expenditure mostly derived from the cost of fuel. This would translate into an average 3% increase on consumer's electricity bills.

The cumulative cost of supply would thus be more than $1 trillion higher should a nuclear fade occur then if it did not. This is $1 trillion that must be offset by higher electricity costs for consumers, an increase in debt for corporates or governments, and represents a significant use of capital over 20 years that could likely be spent better elsewhere.

The nuclear fade scenario also results in an acceleration of the transition away from dispatchable electricity. This would occur simultaneously with our need to increase dispatchable electricity as renewable capacity increases and puts downward pressure on system reliability.

Battery storage will play a role in increasing the flexibility of renewables, but there is little evidence to-date that current storage technology is cost competitive with incumbent generation. In the interim, the result is that natural gas generation must increase. As Figure 2 shows, the potential additional natural gas capacity may be significant.

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The Role Of Nuclear Power In A Clean Energy System - Seeking Alpha

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Nukes in Space: the Extinction Rebellion Yet to Be – CounterPunch.org – CounterPunch

Posted: at 12:43 am

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently argued that more species are going extinct due to human activity than occurred 66 million years ago, when an asteroid or similar hit the Earth.

Much less discussed is US President Donald Trumps (read: the military-industrial-complexs) Space Force, which Trump again championed at a recent address to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Space domination is Americas destiny, he told the audience. Referring to the protests that broke out across the US and the world, triggered by the slow suffocation on camera by a white cop of the unarmed, handcuffed black man, George Floyd, Trump said: I will not allow angry mobs to dominateunless they are angry mobs of police.

But what about calm mobs? The mob of military corporatists setting US weapons policy is calmly seeking to dominate space and thus the world. Trump went on to say: we will ensure a future of American dominance in space. This comes at a time when the US taxpayer is predicted to spend nearly half a trillion dollars over the next decade upgrading Americas aging nuclear weapons. The Space Force is integrating in various waystracking, surveillance, sensingwith the triad of nukes on land, in the air, and at sea.

PAVING THE WAY

In January 2017, the newly-unelected President Trump (he lost the popular vote by 2.9m), ordered the Department of Defense to conduct a Nuclear Posture Review. The document published a year later makes clear that the US possesses nuclear weapons, in part, so that our diplomats continue to speak from a position of strength on matters of war and peace. The Nuclear Posture Review cites Russia as the evil menace against which the US must defend by renewing its nuclear stockpiles.

But a Congressional Research Service report cites the view of US nuclear strategists who think that Russia has adopted an escalate to de-escalate strategy, where it might threaten to use nuclear weapons if it were losing a conflict with a NATO member, in an effort to convince the United States and its NATO allies to withdraw from the conflict. It notes that Russias modernization program began in the early-2000s. We might add that this was a couple of years after the US committed itself Full Spectrum Dominance of land, sea, air, and space. It was also around the time that the Bush II administration (2001-2009, which also lost the popular vote by half a million) pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 1972.

Arms Control Today reports that Trumps withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty 1987 leaves just the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in place to limit U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons deployments. It notes that START 2010 is due to expire in February 2021. Moscow professed to want to negotiate instead of having the US simply withdraw. It then reiterated Russias commitments to match any US modernization and expansion of nuclear weapons. This is great for the US and Russian arms industries, but not so good for the prospects of human survival.

Part of the reason for withdrawing from the INF, according to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, is to develop weapons to threaten China; though, of course, Esper puts it in different words, speaking instead of how great the development of an intermediate-range conventional weapon would be to the [Pacific Command] theater.

NUKES IN SPACE

On February 4th-5th, the Air Force Global Strike Command and 30th Space Wing test-launched the nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The Space Force describes the ICBM as a unique portion of the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) nuclear enterprise.

First deployed in 1979, the W78 nuclear warhead is being renewed at a cost to US taxpayers of $8.6 billion. The renewal program began under Obama in 2010. It is scheduled for deployment in 2030 and will be renamed W78-1. The W78-1 is designed to be carried by the Minuteman III ICBM, recently tested by the AFGSC in collaboration with the Space Force and 30th Space Wing. Meanwhile, there are other ominous developments afoot.

In 2019, the Missile Defense Review advocated for placing interceptors, which can equally mean first-strike missiles, in space: Space-basing may increase the overall likelihood of successfully intercepting offensive missiles, the document claims. It can reduce the number of U.S. defensive interceptors required to do so, and potentially destroy offensive missiles over the attackers territory rather than the targeted state.

At the end of May 2020, Raytheons Missiles and Defense branch offered a job with secret clearance to engineers with expertise in radiation effects. The job calls for radiation hardening designs for missile defense interceptors. Interceptors are well-known by strategists to be, dual-use, potential first-strike weapons. We are executing programs and investing in systems designed to work in nuclear weapons and space environments, the document says. The job description mentions interceptors, which, if the authors of the Missile Defense Review have their way, could end up being based in space.

UPGRADES

Under the Stockpile Stewardship Program, Los Alamos no longer detonates nuclear weapons to test them, relying instead on non-nuclear tests and computer simulations. The Lab maintains old nukes via the Life Extension Program: ironic, given that the weapons do little other than threaten death. The LEP involves the analysis, replacement, and refurbishment of components.

The B61-3, -4, -7, and 11 nuclear gravity bombs are deployed to US and NATO bases. The B61 has been in service for 50 years, making it the oldest and most versatile weapon in the enduring U.S. stockpile. Designed and engineered at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, the Life Extension Program will keep the device in service for an additional 20 years. The B61-12 is being certified for delivery by current strategic and dual-capable aircraft, as well as future aircraft platforms. If we are interested in survival as a species, the dual-use element is problematic because Russian, Chinese, or other adversaries can never be sure whether the given bomber plane in or near their airspace is carrying nuclear weapons. This puts their militaries on high-alert and increases the likelihood of escalation through misunderstanding.

The W88 nuclear warheads Life Extension Program (LEP) started in 2012, again under Obama. The W88 came into service in 1988 with the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The LEP will replace the arming, firing, and fusion system, and refreshes the weapons conventional high explosives, for safety reasons, of course. The LEP is compartmentalized across several labs. Los Alamos is in charge of W76-2 mod, a LEP for another Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

The W76-1 produces a high-yield and is, counterintuitively, safer for the world in some ways because enemies know that they will be obliterated and are therefore less likely to engage in the kind of warfighting that can lead to escalation. First produced in 2019 at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, the W76-2 on the other hand produces a lower-yield explosion, blurring the lines between nuclear and non-nuclear war. Lower-yield weapons are more tempting for commanders and world leaders to use, but they risk retaliation from states with high-yield weapons and thus uncontrollable nuclear escalation. Los Alamos describes the W76-2 mod as a milestone in support of a national security initiative requested by the president in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

The W80-1 is being extended at Lawrence Livermore via the W80-4, which will be ready by 2031. The scientists explain that the insensitive high explosive, triaminotrinitrobenzene (TATB), will be used for the warheads main charge. Engineers and chemists at Lawrence Livermore are helping to restart the TATB production process after 30 years of dormancy.

In April 2020, Raytheon won the contract to develop the Long Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) for the US Air Force, on which the W80-4 will be placed. The LRSO will be capable of both nuclear and conventional strikes, says Defense News, which means that Russia and China will be on high-alert and prone to escalation in error, as the article later admits.

CONCLUSION: DIRECT THAT ENERGY

As Extinction Rebellion largely obeys COVID lockdown, Black Lives Matter and other solidarity groups take to the streets nationally and internationally. Militarized police push young, unarmed women to the ground, use their shields to knock over old men, and even fire their paint guns at people standing in their doorways filming. We have an out-of-control, predatory neoliberal economic system, a powder keg of 40 million unemployed Americans, a climate heating up by the day, causing wildfires in the Arctic, and a grim swing towards a new kind of buffoonish authoritarianism, with Bolsonaro in Brazil, BoJo the Clown in the UK, and the manic Narcissist-in-Chief in the White House running the most powerful nation on Earth.

As if all of this wasnt bad enough, world-threatening nukes are being modernized and incrementally based in space. We need a broad left coalition of Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, and a revived anti-nuclear campaign to team up with anti-space-weapons networks to, if not end this madness, at least mitigate it. Unless we succeed, we might not be here to rebel against our extinction.

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Six months to break the deadlock on life after Brexit – The Advocate

Posted: at 12:43 am

The U.K.'s decision to formally rule out any extension of the trade negotiations with the European Union means the two sides have just six months left to overcome their differences if they are to reach a deal. Here's a guide to the months ahead:

- June 12: No extension. Britain formally ruled out extending the 11-month transition period that began on Jan. 31. By the year-end, the two sides hope to reach an agreement on their future relationship. But after four rounds of negotiations, the talks are deadlocked, with the two sides at odds on issues such as the level playing field, the role of the European Court of Justice, and fisheries.

- June 15: Crunch talks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen aimed at injecting momentum into the talks.

- June 18-19: European Council meeting of EU leaders.

- June 29-July 3: Back to the negotiating table. EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, hold talks in Brussels. Like all the in-person meetings planned, it may be canceled because of the virus.

- June 30: Last chance. Final deadline for extending the transition period beyond Dec. 31.

- July 1: Soft deadlines. On the original timetable, the EU and U.K. should by now have reached an accord on fisheries, a precondition for a trade deal, as well as an accord on what access London's financial services firms will have to the single market after the year-end.

- July 6: The chief negotiators and their teams hold specialized discussions.

- July 13: The chief negotiators and their teams hold specialized discussions.

- July 20-24: Fifth round of talks scheduled to take place in London.

- July 27: The chief negotiators and their teams hold specialized discussions.

- Aug. 17-21: Sixth round of talks scheduled to take place in Brussels.

- Sept. 13: Extraordinary meeting of EU leaders in Leipzig, Germany.

- Oct. 15-16: EU leaders meet in Brussels. They will want any agreement to be nailed down by now to allow time in case individual member states have to ratify it -- but if Brexit negotiations have taught us one thing, it is that seemingly immovable deadlines can be moved.

- Dec. 10-11: EU leaders meet in Brussels.

- Dec. 31: End of transition period. If the two sides haven't signed a trade deal by now, Britain will default to trading on World Trade Organization terms. Tariffs and quotas would be imposed, and customs checks would be reintroduced.

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Further extension to mother-and-baby homes inquiry – RTE.ie

Posted: at 12:43 am

The Government has agreed to a request from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes for a further extension to the publication of its final report.

The Commission had been due to publish its findings into its investigation on Mother and Baby Homes in February, however it says Covid-19 has delayed its work.

In its Seventh Interim Report published today, the Commission says it has been affected by the restrictions imposed as a consequence of Covid-19.

While it says the final report is very close to completion, in order to comply with Public Health advice and directions, logistical difficulties have arisen.

The Commission requested a revision of the timeframe for submitting its final report until 30 October 2020 which has been agreed by the Government.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was established in February 2015 and was due to report within three years.

It has since requested and been granted a number of extensions to that deadline.

Prior to today, the Commission has published six reports including one in March last year on burial practices at a number of homes.

The Commission was set up examine the treatment of and dealings with women and children in 14 mother and baby homes as well as four county homes between 1922 and 1998.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has acknowledged that former residents of the institutions that are under investigation will be deeply disappointed with the delay. However, Katherine Zappone has said she knows they will understand the effects and restrictions of Coronavirus on everyday life.

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Enel Awarded 106.3 MW in Italy in GSE’s Second Auction – Saurenergy

Posted: June 5, 2020 at 6:46 am

Enel Green Power has announced that it has been awarded 68 MW of new renewable capacity for two wind projects and 38.3 MW of nominal capacity deriving from the repowering of already-operational hydro plants in the second renewable auction launched by the state-owned energy service company GSE (Gestore Servizi Energetici) in Italy.

Specifically, the company participated in the 500 MW tender for new wind and solar projects and the 98.5 MW tender for renovations of renewable plants with a capacity exceeding 1 MW.

Regarding the new capacity, the two wind farms are located in Campania and Basilicata. The upgrading and useful life extension concern the three hydro plants already operating in the municipalities of Castiglione dei Pepoli (Bologna), Civitella in Val di Chiana (Arezzo) and Montecreto (Modena).

With this second award we confirm the commitment to invest in new renewable capacity in Italy, contributing to the challenging decarbonisation objectives of the Enel Group and the country,saidAntonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power and Head of the Global Power Generation business line. Thanks to our development strategy, in 2019 the Groups installed capacity from renewables exceeded that from thermal sources globally, marking a further step forward towards the progressive replacement of fossil fuels with zero-emission ones.

The firm has stated that the construction of new capacity and the upgrading of existing plants in Italy are part of the wider commitment of the Enel Group to the growth of renewables and to decarbonisation which in our country foresees, in the 2020-2022 period, the development of new renewable capacity for around 700 MW and for which EGP has developed a pipeline of approximately 1.3 GW of opportunities that can start operating in the same period.

In the second auction conducted by GSE, wind won 406 MW of the 425 MW awarded in an undersubscribed auction 500 MW was on offer.

The primary reason for the undersubscription is Italys cumbersome and lengthy permitting process, stated WindEurope. Besides the challenges with permitting, the auction was also undersubscribed because repowering projects were not allowed to bid. This is significant. Italy has huge repowering potential: almost half of Italys installed wind fleet (10 GW) will reach the end of its operational life by 2030. The fact that repowering projects could not bid in the auction makes no sense.

Onshore wind accounted for the entire 406 MW of the 425 MW awarded in the most recent auction. The price range was from EUR 56/MWh to EUR 68.4/MWh. The weighted average was EUR 64.6/MWh.

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Has the United States Abandoned Arms Control? – War on the Rocks

Posted: at 6:46 am

This is insane.

So declared former CIA Director Michael Hayden on hearing the news last week that President Donald Trump was considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty. In place since 1992, the treaty permits member states to conduct reconnaissance flights over each others territory to verify compliance and increase mutual trust. But Trump accused Russia of acting in bad faith and cheating on its commitments. Until they adhere, he announced, we will pull out. The presidents statement was the latest in a series of moves that have caused critics like Hayden to worry that he is dismantling arms control agreements that have kept the peace for decades.

Trumps record, however, suggests he sees little value in the existing regime. As a candidate, Trump railed against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action the 2015 deal to limit Irans nuclear program. As president, he withdrew from the deal, and the administration has kept up the rhetorical assault ever since. Just this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Iran deal a failed attempt to appease terrorists.

The administration also withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty President Reagans signature arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. This treaty was unique because it outlawed a whole class of weapons, rather than simply reducing numbers. But critics claimed that Russia was routinely violating the agreement and called on Trump to let it go. He did.

Finally, Trump is hinting that he will let the New START treaty expire next year, rather than negotiate a long-term extension with Moscow. Signed in 2010, New START placed limits on a range of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads. Arms control advocates are urging the administration to act quickly, but White House officials complain that the treaty doesnt include China and allows Russia to pursue a range of alternative technologies. Critics suspect the administration is simply looking for ways to let New START die, as it did with other arms control agreements.

Why does Trump reject these deals? Perhaps his ego makes him reluctant to enforce any agreement that doesnt have his name on it. Or maybe he just doesnt like the Obama administration. Trump got rid of the Iran nuclear deal, said a former State Department official, because it was Barack Obamas agreement.

There is probably truth to this. Trump has spent his whole career trying to be the center of attention and he has done little to hide his disdain for Obama. But these arguments cannot account for the longer-term trend in U.S. foreign policy. Recent administrations had mixed records on arms control. In some cases, they tried to strengthen existing agreements, but at other times they argued that it was time to move past Cold War regime. The George W. Bush administration famously abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 despite intense criticism. Bush later signed a landmark nuclear-sharing agreement with India, which was not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This latter effort was particularly troubling for arms control advocates who believed that it was key to maintaining nuclear stability.

Obama also got crosswise with arms control advocates who expected a stronger commitment to disarmament. He started out by promising to take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons, and he worked hard to complete the New START treaty with Russia. But Obama also shepherded a massive nuclear modernization program during his second term. His plans included life-extension programs for the current generation of aerial bombs and warheads, along with a new generation of cruise missiles, inter-continental ballistic missiles, bombers, and submarines. Obama did so to win support for New START from Senate Republicans, but his actions nonetheless struck observers as a betrayal of his earlier promises and left arms control advocates in dismay.

Seen in this light, Trumps actions are not such a radical break from the past. As with other issues, his outlandish rhetoric obscures areas of policy continuity. U.S. presidents since Dwight Eisenhower have publicly aspired to disarmament while simultaneously invested in a nuclear posture built around increasingly accurate and lethal weapons. The United States has consistently sought to stay ahead of all other nuclear-armed countries, friends and rivals alike, and has pushed for arms control treaties that lock in U.S. advantages. Ikes original Open Skies proposal, after all, promised an intelligence windfall at a time when Soviet security depended on keeping the Americans in the dark about its relative weakness. And if the Kremlin rejected a deal that promised transparency and peace, then Washington could claim a propaganda victory. In this and other cases, U.S. leaders favored arms control when they believed they could use it to achieve an American advantage. Trumps talk is unsubtle, but his commitment to maintaining nuclear superiority is not unusual.

What does all this suggest about the future of nuclear weapons in international politics? And what does it mean for the future of U.S. nuclear policy? The answer to both questions depends in large part on how we define arms control, a term whose meaning has divided scholars for decades. Broadly speaking, there are three schools of thought.

The first school envisions arms control as a path to disarmament. This appeals to common sense, given that arms control agreements seek to freeze the production of new weapons, limit the deployment of new forces, reduce the size of arsenals, and in some cases eliminate whole classes of weapons. Arms control agreements, seen in this respect, are piecemeal steps towards the ultimate goal of disarmament. It takes seriously Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which calls for nuclear-armed states to make a good faith effort to eliminate their arsenals. Arms control is both a practical path towards that end, and a sign of good faith.

The second school envisions arms control as a path to strategic stability. This means reducing the incentives for states to engage in peacetime arms racing, and removing the temptation to strike first in a crisis. Arms control agreements that make it difficult for anyone to plausibly win a nuclear war serve both purposes. Stability will obtain when states agree to build and deploy only weapons that guarantee retaliation rather than promise victory. Public justification of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972) emphasized this logic. The reason for banning missile defenses was to demolish any fantasies that the superpowers could win a nuclear exchange in any meaningful sense.

The third school envisions arms control as a path to comparative advantage rather than collective security. States use arms control negotiations to achieve relative gains, either in terms of numbers or technology. For example, the Washington Naval Treaty (1922) obligated signatories to limit their naval tonnage according to an agreed ratio. Although advocates portrayed negotiations as an effort to avoid repeating the pre-World War I naval arms race, states used the treaty to lock in national advantages.

Similar motives lay just under the surface of Cold War arms control negotiations. Some observers celebrated the era of dtente in the 1970s as the time when superpowers sought to let the air out of their dangerous rivalry. New research, however, shows that successive U.S. administrations sought to use arms control diplomacy to maneuver the Soviet Union into a position of qualitative weakness. For the United States, success at the bargaining table would produce benefits that went beyond the nuclear balance. It would discourage Moscow from adventurism, and in so doing enhance the credibility of extended deterrence. In the event of war, it would allow the United States to reduce the costs in lives and treasure. And it would prompt Moscow to spend extravagantly on countermeasures, putting its economy under stress it could not bear.

Past presidents viewed arms control talks as a form of competition, not a forum for comity. In this sense, Trump is not so different from his predecessors, who also sought negotiations to maximize U.S. qualitative advantages. What makes Trump different is that he is dispensing with the pretext that arms control serves other purposes, or that strategic stability is intrinsically valuable. Trump sees himself as a dealmaker, not an institutionalist, and craves flexibility above all. Stability implies sacrificing flexibility on the altar of predictability, and that is something the president cannot abide.

Some observers applaud this approach. From their perspective, the devotion to stability leaves the United States vulnerable to authoritarian rivals who have no qualms about cheating on arms control agreements. In their view, adversaries will grow stronger as America sits idle, emboldened by Washingtons passive response to treaty violations and other provocations. Embracing stability even in the face of their deception is a recipe for disaster.

Trumps bluntness might also help the United States escape charges of hypocrisy. U.S. presidents since Eisenhower have pledged to work toward disarmament; they have also expanded and improved the U.S. arsenal. Observers naturally wonder if they mean what they say. Trumps straightforward appeal to the U.S. national interest might put some of those questions to rest, at least as long as he stays in office.

For the time being, the most important argument in support of Trumps approach is that it creates bargaining leverage. Negotiating strength, according to this logic, comes from a demonstrated willingness to walk away. Trump has repeatedly and loudly declared his willingness to do so, while holding out the prospect of renewing discussions later to achieve a better deal. Trumps flexibility means the door is never completely closed, so long as negotiating partners are ready to make concessions. This has been the case for Iran, North Korea, and now Russia. Were going to pull out, the president said last week, and theyre going to come back and want to make a deal.

The question, however, is whether this gamble for leverage will pay off. So far it has not. Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium despite maximum pressure from the White House. Russia has continued to pursue what the Department of Defense calls a comprehensive modernization of its nuclear arsenal. China is also investing more in nuclear weapons, as the administration acknowledges. There have been no better deals with Iran or North Korea, and it is unclear why Russia would agree to one today. The administrations swagger has not caused U.S. adversaries to turn back the clock on enrichment or scuttle weapon-modernization plans. At best, the White House can point to North Koreas testing moratorium in place since 2017, but Pyongyang has recently intimated that it may start again.

One likely reason for these poor results is that an outspoken commitment to flexibility makes it hard to convince other states that the administration will honor its promises. Compelling adversaries to voluntarily reduce their capabilities is only likely to work if they are confident they will not be punished as a result. Trumps message that everything is always open to renegotiation implies that he is temperamentally unwilling to accept a long-term commitment to restraint. Under these conditions, they have no reason to accept meaningful limits.

Trumps unapologetic embrace of nationalism also makes it hard to explain why arms control agreements are mutually beneficial. The White House has repeatedly argued, for example, that any future START treaty must include China. But by casting its arguments only in terms of U.S. gains, it is probably impossible to convince Beijing to cap its growing nuclear stockpile. As Caitlin Talmadge recently pointed out, Chinese leaders will almost certainly be wary of such an overture unless the administration can talk credibly about Chinese interests.

The irony is that Trumps nationalist bluster works against the national interest. The United States has used arms control for a number of purposes over the years, including the pursuit of its own parochial goals. The process has required U.S. concessions, but the long-term results have been overwhelmingly positive: The number of nuclear powers has stayed the same, the number of nuclear warheads has gone down, and the U.S. qualitative lead has increased. By publicly eschewing the pretense of mutual gains, Trump is putting U.S. gains at risk.

Joshua Rovner is associate professor in the School of International Service at American University.

Image: U.S. Air Force (Photo by Charles J. Haymond)

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Aeris Resources to acquire producing gold mine from Evolution in transformational move – Proactive Investors Australia

Posted: at 6:46 am

The Cracow Gold Mine is on track to produce 82,500 87,500 ounces of gold in the 2020 financial year and generate net mine cash flow of $84 to $89 million.

() has entered into a binding agreement with () to acquire the Cracow Gold Mine in Queensland.

Cracow is an established, high grade, low-cost underground gold mining operation and processing facility operating continuously since 2004, producing more than 1.4 million ounces over its life, with a consistent track record of profitability and reserve replacement.

The mine is on track to produce 82,500 87,500 ounces of gold in the 2020 financial year and generate net mine cash flow of $84 to $89 million.

Aeris has agreed to pay Evolution $60 million in cash upon closing of the transaction, a deferred payment of $15 million on June 30, 2022 plus a 10% net value royalty from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2027, capped at $50 million.

Completion of the transaction is expected to occur on June 30, 2020.

Aeris executive chairman Andre Labuschagne said: This is a truly transformational transaction for Aeris and will be immediately accretive in value.

The acquisition provides us with asset and commodity diversity, strong cashflow generation and high value synergies.

Cracow will be a perfect fit for the unique skill set of our management team, who have a track record of extracting value and life extensions, as demonstrated at the Tritton mine, and previously with Norton Gold Fields at the Paddington gold mine. Our immediate focus will be on transitioning Cracow into the Aeris culture and aggressively investing in the mine life extension opportunities we have identified.

Labuschagne added: Aeris inherits a well-run, proven operation which has been a consistent performer for Evolution.

Importantly for us, there is a strong operating team in place that has a culture of continuous improvement.

We are confident that Cracow management and the workforce will fit well with Aeris own culture and the renewed focus to reinvesting in mine life extensions which Aeris will bring.

Aeris intends to fund the transaction through a fully underwritten $40 million equity raising and a $30 million acquisition bridge debt facility.

A new $15 million guarantee facility has also been secured to provide for the replacement of financial assurances relating to the mine and will be provided by SPOV (Special Portfolio Opportunity V), a subsidiary of a fund managed by PAG.

The equity raising will be conducted via a fully underwritten institutional placement and an underwritten 2.02 for 1 pro-rata accelerated renounceable entitlement offer.

Aeris has already secured commitments from its three largest shareholders, representing about 60% of the register to commit to participating in the equity raising, subject to a maximum holding of 19.99% at completion.

The Cracow Gold Mine is about 500 kilometres north-west of Brisbane in a highly endowed goldfield with gold mineralisation hosted in steeply dipping structurally controlled low sulphidation epithermal veins.

The underground mine is accessed through a single surface decline with ore primarily mined via open stoping through a modified Avoca mining sequence.

Cracow has a strong track record of reserve and resource replacement and Aeris plans to aggressively invest in brownfield and greenfield exploration with the aim of growing the resource base to extend mine life.

Multiple near term opportunities for resource conversion have been identified with about $13 million budgeted over the next two years for exploration, with key priorities including both underground near-mine extensions (e.g. Killarney) as well as nearby open-pit deposits (e.g. the Golden Plateau and Roses Pride).

Extracting value through integration efficiencies will also be a key driver of Aeris immediate plan with about $4 million of targeted annual cost synergies as well as the potential for utilising Aeris existing carried forward tax losses ($256 million at June 30, 2019).

Over the two year period to June 30, 2022, Aeris expects Cracow to generate more than $100 million of net mine cash flows at the current gold price, with pro forma Aeris group EBITDA of $272 million to $282 million and pro forma group net mine cash flows of $137 million to $155 million.

This significant cashflow will provide for both investment in life of mine extension projects at Cracow and Tritton as well as to also continue deleveraging Aeris balance sheet.

To protect the very significant near term positive cashflows from Cracow, Aeris intends to enter a prudent gold hedging program, with an initial focus on the first 12 months.

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