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Kazakhstan has become China’s top source of uranium

Two thirds of uranium imported by China comes from Kazakhstan, 50% of whose exports go to Beijing

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(New Eastern Outlook) – The Republic of Kazakhstan (the RK) has the largest uranium resources, and the country has been the world’s major producer and supplier of this material for several years. The sale of uranium is one of the major export items in the Republic. This business is becoming more profitable owing to the neighbourhood of Kazakhstan and China. The People’s Republic of China is now constructing many new atomic power stations in its territory, and the most favourable supplier of fuel for them is the RK.

According to some sources, about 40% of the world’s uranium production account for Kazakhstan. The RK uranium stocks are large and easy to reach as they lie close to the surface. Owing to the simplicity of production, Kazakhstani uranium is relatively cheap, which promotes its popularity throughout the world.

For several years, China has been the major Kazakhstani uranium importer, while Kazakhstan has been the major supplier of uranium for China. The two thirds of the imported uranium in China is from Kazakhstan, while more than 50% of uranium extracted in Kazakhstan is sold to China. The record volume of purchases (about 15 thousand tons) was reached in 2013. Since that time, this index has been stable – about 14 thousand tons a year, which brings about $250 million to Kazakhstan annually.

China is buying uranium in such quantities because of its large-scale program for the development of nuclear power engineering (NP) launched several years ago. The PRC decided to increase the share of NP in its electricity production in a short time.

This fact is related to the environmental problems that the country has faced in recent years. The basis of China’s power industry is coal-fired thermal power plants. Coal is a relatively cheap type of fuel, but when it is burned, a huge amount of harmful substances is emitted into the atmosphere. Air pollution in China has reached a level that is already a serious threat to public health. It is believed that nuclear power plants harm the environment much less.

Another reason for building new nuclear power plants in China is the concern for its energy security. In addition to coal, it actively uses oil and liquefied natural gas in its power industry. Most of these energy carriers are delivered to China by sea from the Middle East countries. The path runs along the southern coast of Eurasia, and it has several sections, which, if desired, can be blocked by small forces of the Navy. These are places like the Suez Canal, the Mandeb Strait, and the Strait of Malacca. The blockade of any of these areas will significantly complicate China’s maritime communication with the Middle East and will lead to tangible consequences for the Chinese energy sector. In recent years, China has a special reason to fear such a scenario given its difficult relations with India, the USA and some other countries of the Asia-Pacific Region. At the same time, a significantly less quantity of uranium is required for the nuclear power plants as compared to the hydrocarbon fuel for fuel power plants. It is possible to create a large uranium reserve in the short term for years to come. Thus, China is now doing it by buying from Kazakhstan much larger amounts of uranium than required for its operating nuclear power plants. It is worth mentioning that the proper use of nuclear technologies allows using the nuclear fuel several times. In addition, given the close location and friendly relations of China and Kazakhstan, the blockade of their common land border can hardly be feared.

Thus, the desire to obtain independence from the Middle East hydrocarbons and the maritime traffic in the Asia Pacific Region also promotes the development of China’s nuclear power industry.

The implementation of the nuclear plan is in progress. Thus, in summer 2017, China was exploiting 37 nuclear reactors, 20 reactors were under construction, and another 40 reactors were planned for the construction. Therefore, the need of the PRC in the Kazakhstani uranium will be increasing steadily.

Nonetheless, the uranium business of the RK does not always bring a stable profit. Not all the countries are as enthusiastic about the nuclear industry as China. After the disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima-1, many operating nuclear power plants were closed, as well as the construction of new stations in Japan, EU countries, etc. Demand for uranium began to decline amid the increasing production, and prices began to fall. In 2016, the cost of natural uranium decreased by 40% at the international market.

In this respect, the RK took a number of measures. In January 2017, Kazakhstan decided to reduce uranium production by 10%. As a result, the prices began to rise again. However, the RK decided to increase the quality and the price of the supplied products in order to be less dependent on the prices fluctuations at the market in the future. Kazakhstan intends to produce finished nuclear fuel, which is more expensive than the natural uranium and has a more limited supply, as not all uranium mining countries have the technology for its production.

In May 2017, the RK Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev announced that Kazakhstan intended to master the full nuclear fuel cycle (NFC) – the variety of processes, including the mining of radioactive raw materials, the production of nuclear fuel, and treatment of its waste with partial recycle. He reported that the establishment of a vertically integrated company with the NFC by 2020 was the strategic aim of Kazakhstan’s power industry.

In October 2017, K. Bozumbayev announced that the Republic of Kazakhstan would build a plant producing fuel assembly (products, in which the nuclear fuel is placed in the reactor) in 2019. The enterprise will have the guaranteed marketing in China. According to the Minister, the plant will start supplying its products to the first five nuclear power plants in China in 2019-2020.

In November 2017, K. Bozumbayev reported new details of this project. According to him, the enterprise will be established by the Kazakhstani uranium company Kazatomprom together with the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC). As a first step, the Chinese party will buy fuel assembly in the volume of 200 tons a year.

It should be noted that China has its own advanced technologies, and it could produce nuclear fuel from the Kazakhstani raw materials in its territory. This would be much more advantageous for China, but disadvantageous for the Republic of Kazakhstan. The fact that China has agreed to buy fuel assemblies produced in Kazakhstan, and participates in the construction of the plant in the territory of the RK, demonstrates the importance of Kazakhstan as a strategic partner of China.

It is worth recalling that Kazakhstan plays the key role in one more strategically important projects for the PRC – One Belt, One Road (OBOR). The great importance of the RK in the implementation of two essential Chinese projects, such as the program of mass construction of the nuclear power plants and OBOR, make Kazakhstan a unique partner for the PRC and opens huge opportunities for its development with China’s aid.

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Russia Lures International Arms Buyers With Half-Priced, More Effective Missile System

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery.

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Via Zerohedge


Russia has been pitching a rival missile platform that costs half of those made by US companies, reports CNBC, which has resulted in several countries dealing with the Kremlin “despite the potential for blowback.”

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery, while a THAAD battery made by Lockheed Martin costs just about $3 billion, according to people with first-hand knowledge of a US intelligence assessment.

Nearly 13 countries have expressed interest in buying Russia’s S-400, a move that could trigger potential U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Donald Trump signed in August 2017. In September, the U.S. slapped sanctions on China  for buying fighter jets and missiles from Russia. However, the U.S. could grant sanction waivers. –CNBC

Turkey, meanwhile, may be hit with US sanctions over their decision to purchase the S-400 defense system, which the United States says poses a risk to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

Meanwhile, India called the United States’ bluff over sanctions in late Ocotber, standing its ground in its decision to buy the S-400.

One of the reasons Russian systems are generally considered less expensive than their American counterparts is because they don’t include pricey ongoing maintenance.

“When foreign militaries buy American, above and beyond the purchase, they are buying a partnership with the U.S. military,” Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC. “And that plus the maintenance and technical assistance is a big part of the cost difference.

The S-400 system made its debut in 2007, succeeding the S-200 and S-300 missile systems. According to CNBC, “the Russian-made S-400 is capable of engaging a wider array of targets, at longer ranges and against multiple threats simultaneously,” vs. US-made systems.

In terms of capability, one source noted that while there is no perfect weapon, the S-400 eclipses even THAAD, America’s missile defense crown jewel.

When asked why nations seek to buy the S-400 instead of America’s Patriot or THAAD systems, one of the people with knowledge of the intelligence report explained that foreign militaries aren’t willing to stick with the cumbersome process of buying weapons from the U.S. government. –CNBC

“Many of these countries do not want to wait for U.S. regulatory hurdles,” said a CNBC source with first hand knowledge of the assessment. “The S-400 has less export restrictions and the Kremlin is willing to expedite sales by skipping over any regulatory hurdles.

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Britain’s Enemy Is Not Russia But It’s Own Ruling Class, UN Report Confirms

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

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Authored by John Wright. op-ed via RT.com:


As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity…

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country’s right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society– upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

From the report’s introduction:

“It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation.”

Though as a citizen of the UK I respectfully beg to differ with the professor’s claim that such social and economic carnage seems “contrary to British values,” (on the contrary it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country’s Tory establishment, an establishment for whom the dehumanization of the poor and working class is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being “obvious to anyone who opens their eyes,” is well made.

For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them are former soldiers, casualties of the country’s various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians and the government as reverence for the troops and their ‘sacrifice,’ as insincere garbage.

Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.

And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.

The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape are compatible with the 18th not 21st century. They are proof positive that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain’s hotbeds of extremism.

Professor Alston:

“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks hand in hand with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss in our time.

Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been a viable economic response to recession in a given economy.

Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business to ensure that the price paid for said economic recession is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it – namely, the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented as legitimate government policy.

However, in Britain’s case in 2018, this is a war like no other because, as Professor Philip Alston’s report lays bare, only one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and only one side has been taking them.

With Christmas season upon us, the scale of human suffering across the UK ensures that the elaborate ad campaigns inviting us to shop and indulge to our heart’s content – ads depicting the middle class dream of affluence and material comfort – take on the character of a provocation. In fact, they call to mind the truism that wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is, while revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

 

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‘Iron’ Mike Pence Stares-Down Putin In APEC Showdown

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton were seen shaking hands and chatting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

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Via Zerohedge


Forget the All-Blacks ‘Haka’, ignore Foreman-Frasier, Drago-Balboa, and Ortiz-Liddell, the honor of the greatest (or perhaps most awkward) staredown in history now goes to US Vice President Mike Pence…

Having been blamed for everything from Trump’s election victory to USA soccer team’s loss to England last week, Russia faced accusations all weekend and was reportedly confronted by the US contingent over “meddling.”

As The Sun reports, Pence and Putin “discussed the upcoming G20 Summit and touched on the issues that will be discussed when President Trump and President Putin are both in Argentina for the summit,” according to the vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah.

An NBC reporter tweeted: “New per the @VP’s Office—> The VP’s office says Vice President Pence directly addressed Russian meddling in the 2016 election in a conversation with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Singapore.

“The conversation took place following the plenary session this afternoon at ASEAN.”

But, it was the following clash of the titans that caught most people’s attention.

As the Russian president joined the that Pence shook Putin’s ‘deadly’ hand, met his ‘steely KGB-trained’ gaze, and desperately tried not to smile or blink for 20 seconds as Putin appeared to chat amicably with the US VP…

While Putin has (if his accusers are to be believed) grappled his opponents to death with his bare hands (remember he is a sinister KGB agent and jiu-jitsu expert); we suspect the only thing VP Pence has gripped tightly in his hands is his bible.

Sadly, John Bolton then blew the tough guy act (or is he Mike Pence’s ‘good cop’) as he does his best impression of a teenage girl meeting their popstar idol for the first time…

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