Germany Continues Denuclearization

Germany continued its march towards cleaner and safer energy by further dismantling the Philippsburg nuclear plant in its South-western region.

Crux of the Matter

Further Demolition
On Wednesday 13 May 2020, Germany demolished 2 cooling towers of the Philippsburg Nuclear Plant, lying in its South-western region.

The plant contained 2 reactors, which were shut in 2011 and 2019 respectively. On Wednesday, further progress occurred in the coolant towers’ dismantling.

Germany’s Link with Nuclear Energy

  • Germany set up the first nuclear plant in 1962, in Kahl.
  • Phasing-out process started after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
  • In 2009, the policy was modified to delay the phase-out.
  • In 2011, the original policy was reinstated after the world witnessed the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Germany shut 8 reactors immediately.
  • As per the current policy, the last reactor would be shut down by 2022.

In Modern times,

  • Germany got ~25% of total electricity from 17 nuclear plants in 2011.
  • The percentage dropped to 12%, coming from 7 reactors in 2019.

Reactions To The Move
Critics of Nuclear energy have welcomed the step. They have marked it as saving the citizens from radiation while also eliminating any possibility of nuclear disasters like Chernobyl or Fukushima. However, some critics have pointed that dependency on coal for power would increase, which would increase health-related problems caused by pollution due to coal burning.

  • A nuclear power phase-out is the discontinuation of usage of nuclear power for energy production. Three nuclear accidents have influenced the discontinuation of nuclear power: the 1979 Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown in the United States, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the USSR, and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Following Fukushima, Germany has permanently shut down 8 of its 17 reactors and pledged to close the rest by 2022.
  • The Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENCD) is an UN-sponsored organization established in 1961. The ENCD considered disarmament, confidence-building measures, and nuclear test controls. Between 1965 and 1968, the ENCD negotiated the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Peace Action, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service are some of the major anti-nuclear groups. The formation of green parties (political parties based on the principles of social justice, environmentalism, and nonviolence.) in the 1970s and 1980s was often a direct result of anti-nuclear politics.

North Korea warns of reconsidering its decision of 'Denucelarisation'

Kim Jong Un has declared that North Korea will develop strategic weapons to ensure the security of its state until a lasting peace-keeping mechanism is ready. He asserted that there will never be denuclearization in the Korean peninsula if the US continues its ‘hostile policies’ against the regime.

Crux of the Matter
  • Without specifying any details of the strategic weapons Kim Jong Un said that the new weapons system had been ‘perfectly carried out’ by the scientists.
  • He also warned that he is no longer bound by his self-imposed decision to freeze major weapons testing for more than two years.
  • North Korea had expressed increasing frustration with the US since Trump walked out of their last formal summit.
  • Kim has expressed his anger at joint US-South Korean militarily drills, new US weapons being deployed on the peninsula and sanctions, which have been choking North Korea’s paltry economy.
  • Kim said the US actions will force him to reconsider testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • While Trump has been claiming since 2018 that North Korea is ‘no longer a nuclear threat’.
  • Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said, “the US will be ready to respond if Kim fires additional long-range missiles or conduct any nuclear tests.”

Kim Jong-un is a North Korean politician who has been the supreme leader of North Korea since 2011 and chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea since 2012. He is the second child of Kim Jong-il, who was North Korea’s second leader from 1994 to 2011, and Ko Yong-hui. Kim rules a dictatorship where elections are not free and fair, government critics are persecuted, media is controlled by the regime, internet access is limited by the regime, and there is no freedom of religion. His regime operates an extensive network of prisons and labour camps; the regime convicts people for political crimes and uses collective punishment whereby members of a family get punished for the crimes of one person. On 12 June 2018, Kim and US President Donald Trump met for a summit in Singapore, the first-ever talks held between a North Korean leader and a sitting US President, to discuss the North Korean nuclear program. More Info

US-South Korea to Co-ordinate Efforts for Denuclearization of North Korea

The US and South Korea have pledged to maintain close coordination to ensure the final, fully verified denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and reaffirmed the importance of US-ROK-Japan trilateral cooperation – especially in the security and economic realm.

Crux of the Matter
  • The US State department released a statement in this regard after the US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan met with Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Nagoya, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on November 23.
  • Deputy Secretary Sullivan and Foreign Minister Kang also reiterated their commitment to cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, as outlined in the Joint U.S.-ROK Factsheet released on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit November 2.

North Korea’s WMDs – North Korea has a military nuclear weapons program and, as of early 2019, is estimated to have an arsenal of approximately 20–30 nuclear weapons and sufficient fissile material for an additional 30–60 nuclear weapons. North Korea has also stockpiled a significant quantity of chemical and biological weapons. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Since 2006, the country has been conducting a series of six nuclear tests at increasing levels of expertise, prompting the country to come under sanctions. More Info