The UN, Ban Ki-moon, and the global crisis:
Announcing the conference of the Korean Association for Post-Nuclear Energy
Reporter Won-Young Lee, Professor, University of Suwon, Vice-President of the Korean Association for Post-Nuclear Energy
November 30, 2021
Financial powers allied with nuclear energy, UN, and IAEA
In 2012, one year after the Fukushima nuclear accident, the owner of Tokyo Electric Power Company, which brought about the accident, was changed. Financial institutions, which are major shareholders, have benefited unilaterally because they have been exclusively supplying electricity for a long time. But the accident caused the major shareholder of electricity company to be changed. New major shareholder, the Japanese Government, poured about 90 trillion won of public funds. In the process, financial institutions were compensated for losses through national taxes. The unwritten law that “financial capital does not lose money” is applied to nuclear power plants.
The problem is that this kind of operating model is being expanded with the support of each country’s government. The US government, which stopped building nuclear power plants after the 1979 Three Mile accident, also sent a strong message that the government could provide guarantees to financial institutions participating in the construction of the Texas nuclear power plant during the recent Trump administration. This ‘guarantee’ means that financial institutions will be guaranteed profits when they invest in nuclear power plants, even considering the cost of risk.
South Korea is also giving private financial capital a special premium as the government provides nearly $10 billion in financing through the Export-Import Bank of Korea for the Lee Myung-bak regime’s nuclear exports to the United Arab Emirates(UAE). What’s wrong with it?
Going back to its roots, the participation of financial capital in nuclear development is in the Manhattan project of the atomic bombing of WWII. Professor Takao Matsumura, who took part in Hapcheon Peace Conference Seminar in August of this year, cited the fact that “there was a force other than the government that encouraged dropping of atomic bomb, and that force was large financial capital.” Regarding the second part of insistence, I have heard rumors of ‘scheme of large financial capital’ before. But it was the first time I saw a scholar formally mention it in a thesis.
It is common sense that the United States is primarily responsible. Even if military bases were the main target of atomic bombing, it is self-evident that a large number of civilians would be killed if atomic bomb is dropped on a city where many civilians live. Although it was sufficiently possible to show the great power of atomic bomb in other ways, it was unprecedented and excessive use of force in the history of mankind, even during wartime, to try mass killings twice. Professor Matsumura’s explanation that private financial capital played a role in urging the release of such a genocide decision is incredibly shocking.
Both weapon and energy are closely related to hegemony. Even 76 years later, I still feel a terrifying threat to the fact that the financial capital forces that pushed the global village into a crisis these days were deeply involved in dropping of atomic bomb. What is even more serious is that the UN’s starting point was in the system of permanent member of the UN Security Council which consists of these nuclear-weapon states. Still nuclear-weapon states play central role for prevention of nuclear war in UN. Meanwhile, mankind has unfortunately suffered from three major nuclear power plant accidents. Three accidents took place in 1979, 1986, and 2011.
Until such a crisis comes, financial capitalists sought profits first. Losses such as nuclear accidents and radioactive wastes are typically unethical behavior to pass on to the public or the next generation. The problem is the United States. The United States has maintained contradicting policy which promote nuclear energy to produce raw materials used for nuclear weapons more than 70 years while advocating prohibition of proliferation of nuclear weapons. The U.S. emphasizes nuclear umbrellas and encourages the export of plutonium-producing nuclear power plants to foreign countries. In reality, it is a contradiction that the United States is actual leader of the United Nations.
As an extension of this context, the Japanese government is trying to force the discharge of contaminated water from nuclear power plants into the sea. The fact that the US government and the IAEA have tolerated nuclear discharge is also an extension of this context. The IAEA is a structure that is not controlled by the United Nations, it is not a spokesperson for the global human race. It is a force that promotes nuclear power. It’s just the case that ‘You cannot scratch your own back’.
The UN, which now represents the global village, is an entity with such an essential contradiction.
Ban Ki-moon’s remarks against the spirit of World Charter for Nature (1982) and Earth Charter (2000)
On the other hand, the UN’s World Charter for Nature, published in 1982, has long been a great milestone in thought of people around the world. One of the most important principles is in Article 11.
Article 11. Activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature shall be avoided.
This spirit of this Charter for Nature is inherited to Earth Charter in 2000. The Earth Charter is a declaration of consensus of all governments and international organizations that gathered at Rio of Brazil in 1992, after sequence of meetings. The core spirit is expressed in Article 6.
Article 6. Eliminate harmful elements by adopting best method of environmental protection. When knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that every decision making brings about cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of environment, and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
These charters proclaim the principles of safeguarding safety for mankind and global community from dangers after nuclear power plant accidents of 1979 and 1986. It is now a spiritual pillar of global community. The UN has been deeply involved in both.
However, President Ban’s recent remarks are arguing against that historical context.
Limitations of SMR and ethical issues
Recently, former President Ban Ki-moon argued that “Net zero without nuclear power plants is impossible, so we need to make good use of the strengths of small modular reactor(SMR) that Korea has.” However, this is an assertion without a proper examination of the scientific truth. Although SMR may be a research device, it has already been shown that it cannot be a practical alternative to the climate crisis that the global village is facing now.
Professor M.V. Ramana of the University of British Columbia said, “SMR is not even ready to design. Although various modifications of SMR, power load control, hydrogen generation, and desalination are possible, advanced reactors have problems in terms of economic aspect. Nuclear advocates are emphasizing other possibilities with a straw in one’s hand”
The prevailing prediction is that SMR will not be able to get out of the lab door due to economic feasibility. Even if the above problems are solved, it will take a considerable amount of time to reach energy production in the industry. For the purpose of responding to the climate crisis, it is bound to be pushed back to the back.
Now, the global village is at the crossroads of energy transition. Many international organizations are predicting this transition. In a Netzero report, the IEA(International Energy Agency) predicted that renewable energy accounted for 88% of the power generation in 2050. Even in scenario projected by Shell, the world’s largest oil company, the proportion of renewable energy generation is 86%.
Renewable energy has already been identified as the core of global energy transition. The power system and power grid necessary to rapidly expand it, and the development of technology to integrate and disperse it, are discussed very importantly. It should be noted that Denmark has developed into a world-class wind power country after deciding to phase out nuclear power in 1985 after 12 years of discussion.
Perhaps Ban is unaware of these facts, and continues to make distorted statements. The SMR, which he claims is for responding to the climate crisis, is an incubator baby that has not yet come out of the lab. Even if it grows up safely and enters the field of energy production, it is uncertain whether it will operate with both stability and economy. It is confusing even the opportunity to respond appropriately to the climate crisis.
Decision-making on whether or not to operate a nuclear power plant is essentially a matter of ethics. It is a matter of ethics as to whether the convenience (convenience has not been empirically proven) claimed to be enjoyed at the time can take precedence over the sacrifice of future generations. Former Secretary-General Ban once represented the United Nations, and even now his choices and remarks carry the weight of the name of the United Nations. His errors threaten even the slightest remaining trust in the United Nations.
Ban is obligated to check how Denmark and Germany made such a decision through national consensus and how they have actually responded to the climate crisis by eliminating nuclear power plants one by one. Only by changing the direction of making such efforts, we can protect our safety from the evil forces that play tricks on the global community.
It just so happens that this topic will also be covered in the Korean Association for Post-Nuclear Energy this coming Friday. It will be held in the auditorium on the first floor of Open Building of Korea National Open University from 2 pm on Friday, December 3rd. Come and study.
Original Article >> http://www.mediatoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=300895
(translated by LEE Sanghoon)
Categories: Media Reports