Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Iraq Government Tells UN That ISIS Seized 40 Kg of Uranium in Mosul

Whatever the origin of this group is, it surely is blessed with good finds - Humvees, ammunition courtesy of the United States. Now, 40 kilograms of uranium compounds from Mosul University that were kept for research purposes.

According to Reuters, "a U.S. government source" says these uranium compounds are "not believed to be enriched uranium".

From Reuters (7/9/2014; emphasis is mine):

Exclusive: Iraq tells U.N. that 'terrorist groups' seized nuclear materials

(Reuters) - Insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country's north, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad."

Nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction."

"These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts," said Alhakim.

He warned that they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.

A U.S. government source familiar with the matter said the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use to manufacture into a weapon. Another U.S. official familiar with security matters said he was unaware of this development raising any alarm among U.S. authorities.

A Sunni Muslim group known as the Islamic State is spearheading a patchwork of insurgents who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. The al Qaeda offshoot until recently called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"The Republic of Iraq is notifying the international community of these dangerous developments and asking for help and the needed support to stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad," Alhakim wrote.

Iraq acceded to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material on Monday, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The convention requires states to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport.

"It also provides for expanded cooperation between and among states regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences," according to the IAEA.

Meanwhile, the US has sent nearly 1,000 troops to Iraq already, and more are coming, according to So much for "no boots on the ground".

From (7/4/2014; part, emphasis is mine):

...Last week saw deployments of growing numbers of ground troops, with claims Obama’s promises of no boots on the ground only covered “combat troops.” Monday of this week, the first combat troops came, with the promise now shifting to a “no combat missions” one.

Even that seems absurd, as the Pentagon sends Apache attack helicopters into Iraq for the combat troops to use in these “non-combat” missions. The administration appears to recognize the unpopularity of a new Iraq War, but seems determined to escalate quietly until it is no longer a potential move to warn against, but a simple reality.

...Promises of no more than 300 US troops have now led to nearly 1,000 troops on the ground, with more coming in all the time, and no signs that the escalation is stopping.

No longer a potential move but a simple reality. That's got to be the exact template for Japan's Prime Minister Abe, who is now ready to introduce a boatload of legislation after the cabinet decision on the cabinet's right and authority to change the interpretation of the Japanese Constitution. Keep doing, and keep telling the public that it is just a preparation, potential move, until it isn't.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Category-4 Equivalent Typhoon No.8 (Neoguri) Moving Toward Okinawa, Kyushu

According to the Bloomberg article (7/7/2014), the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, says it may become a Cat-5 equivalent by Tuesday though others disagree:

High winds, crashing waves and a dangerous storm surge are threatening Okinawa, including its capital Naha, as Super Typhoon Neoguri nears Japan.

Neoguri carried maximum sustained winds of about 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour, making it the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale used in the U.S., according to the Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was about 283 miles south-southwest of Okinawa.

Japan has issued emergency warnings for Okinawa calling for high waves, gale-force winds, strong storm surge and thunderstorms. Heavy rain warnings are in effect for portions of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, and for southwestern portions of Honshu, Japan’s main island. There are two idled nuclear plants on Kyushu.

The storm was moving north at 12 mph, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency. The U.S. Navy predicts the storm may reach 160 mph by tomorrow, however Jeff Masters, a founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, thinks it may have peaked in intensity.

“The official Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast calls for Neoguri to complete its eyewall replacement cycle and intensify into a Category 5 typhoon with 160 mph winds by Tuesday,” Masters said in an e-mail. “While this is certainly possible, I think it is more likely that Neoguri has peaked in intensity, given the level of disruption to the storm apparent on satellite images.”

(Full article at the link)

Image from NOAA:

The US military has reasons to worry, as Okinawa is home to numerous US military bases, as you can see in the map below (by Regional Security Policy Division, Executive Office of the Governor Okinawa Prefecture):

Typhoon 8's potential path, from the US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center:

Kyushu Island has two nuclear power plants, Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture in the north and Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in the south. Sendai Nuclear Power plant is facing the South China Sea (i.e. facing the coming typhoon). If the prediction by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is correct, the typhoon will make a landfall in between, in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is all set to be given the approval from Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority that it has cleared the examination under the new nuclear regulatory standards and is ready for the restart, as soon as the local municipalities approve the restart (which is a given).