In the 1930s and 1940s, the West’s financial and security structures collapsed. In the grip of a speculative bubble, and in the absence of proper oversight, banks had been allowed to lend more money than they responsibly could. (Sound familiar?) When queasy depositors sought to withdraw their money en masse, the result was a massive collapse of banks and the stock market, followed by the Great Depression.
Month: September 2008
It's Wednesday, September 17, and more than two weeks have elapsed since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) began its mock inspection exercise in Kazakhstan. A quick refresher on the particulars of the exercise: In August, the CTBTO's International Monitoring System detected seismic signals from underground shocks that looked as if they might have come from a clandestine nuclear test in the vast territory of Arcania, a fictional Central Asian republic where more than 20 nuclear weapons test explosions had been openly conducted during the Cold War.
As the on-site inspection of the former Arcanian test site entered its second week, the inspection team from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has begun to narrow its search for evidence on whether or not Arcania conducted a recent nuclear weapon explosion in violation of its obligations as a state party to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The contribution of nuclear power continues to decline in Europe. As of September, 15 of the 27 countries in the enlarged EU operated 146 reactors (about one-third of the world total), down from 177 reactors in 1989. The vast majority of these facilities (125 units) are located in eight of the western EU countries–see chart. In 2007, nuclear power produced 28 percent of the EU's commercial electricity–down from 32 percent in 2002–and 12 percent of the region's commercial primary energy.
Six Asian countries possess nuclear power programs–China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In 2007, they generated 523 terawatt hours–or 20 percent–of the world's nuclear electricity. That, however, represented a 3.5 percent drop in the continent's nuclear generation when compared to 2006. The decrease was mainly due to the shutdown of the seven-unit plant at Kashiwazaki, Japan, which was damaged by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in July 2007.
Last Thursday, in the midst of the world media's constant nuclear revival reportage, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had an embarrassing announcement to make. While it has increased its projections for nuclear generation in 2030, nuclear's share of global electricity generation dropped another percentage point in 2007.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) launched the longest and most complex of its verification field exercises on September 1, with a hypothetical scenario: In late August, the CTBTO's International Monitoring System detected seismic signals from underground shocks that looked as if they might have come from a clandestine nuclear test in the vast territory of Arcania, a fictional Central Asian republic where more than 20 nuclear weapons test explosions had been openly conducted during the Cold War.
Despite the availability of antiviral medications and intensive care units, mortality rates for the 385 humans infected with avian influenza remain high. Virtually all of the victims have been from developing countries, with the case fatality rate in children younger than 15 years of age reaching almost 90 percent.
In the early morning of September 10, the Large Hadron Collider will be tested for the first time amid concern that the device could create a blackhole that will destroy the Earth. If you’re reading this afterwards, the Earth survived. Still, the event provides an opportunity to reflect on the possibility of human extinction.
The next president will inherit a severe and growing imbalance in the tool kit he has available for dealing with the national security challenges of the early twenty-first century. In the first three parts of this series, I described these challenges and recommended steps to strengthen the White House’s capability to define policy and provide guidance to agencies. I have also underlined the importance of getting defense planning and budgeting under control.
Recent revelations of illegal transfers of sensitive materials by Japanese companies has again highlighted the fact that controlling the spread of dual-use materials remains a daunting challenge–even for a country with an advanced export-control system such as Japan.
The rising demand for energy, especially in Asia, has made it all but inevitable that a surge in the construction of new nuclear reactors will occur over the next 20 years. That will pose issues regarding the building of new uranium enrichment and reprocessing facilities or the expansion of existing facilities.1
In late August, I travelled to Geneva for an intersessional meeting of the States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). The meeting, which included representatives from the expert level, considered biosafety, biosecurity, and issues such as awareness raising, education, oversight of scientific activities, and codes of conduct for life scientists. (Concise daily accounts of these proceedings are available through the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy).
The Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, located 9 miles from Belgrade, is Yugoslavia’s oldest nuclear research institute. Established in 1948 as the Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, its efforts supposedly included an attempt to build a Yugoslav nuclear bomb. For almost 45 years, it collected Yugoslavia’s and Serbia’s radioactive waste.