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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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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

RT

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Via RT…


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.

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Via Zerohedge


In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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