Sen—In a midst of the year-end flurry of activity at the Russian space center in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the most unusual and least visible launch campaign takes place at a desolate Site 2A.
At the height of the Cold War, the low-profile facility housed nuclear warheads for the first Soviet ballistic missile, the R-7. Even though nukes had been gone from Baikonur for decades, Site 2A’s latest role was veiled in secrecy until just a few days ago.
The former nuclear storage is now home for the pre-launch processing of the Kondor-E (Condor) Earth-watching satellite. Known primarily to the seasoned followers of the Russian space program, Kondor does not have a page on Roskosmos’ web site and not until this week did its launch date appear in the official manifest. In the meantime, Kondor’s anticipated liftoff had been causing a storm of controversy half a world away—in South Africa!
It transpires that, in 2006, the South African Ministry of Defense commissioned the Russian company NPO Mashinostroenia (or NPO Mash for short) to build a spy satellite, which could provide all-weather, day-and-night photos of the Earth’s surface with the help of a sophisticated radar.
NPO Mash, currently known primarily for its cruise missiles, has been working on just such a project since the beginning of the 1990s, but neither Russian military nor civilian space agencies were providing enough cash to complete the job. After years of making a global sales pitch, NPO Mash apparently struck a deal with General “Mojo” Motau, the head of the South-African defense intelligence.
Read full article at: http://sen.com/news/russia-to-launch-a-spy-satellite-for-south-africa
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Johannesburg, 17th of December 2014- As South Africa prepares for Christmas festivities, the government announced today, on Wednesday the 17th of December, that it is ready to launch a nuclear procurement programme. The announcement comes after the majority of South African households and businesses have experienced emergency load shedding as a result of the poor maintenance of Eskom power stations and transmission lines. The load shedding has left communities and civil society at large wondering if the government is capable of safely operating the planned 9600 MW of nuclear power, given the poor state of current energy infrastructure.
Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Dominique Doyle, states that: “Timing such a huge announcement just many academics and NGOs close for the year is but further evidence that the nuclear procurement programme is not transparent. Section 217 of the South African Constitution requires transparent processes; and slipping nuclear plans out at the end of the year while citizens are still sensitive about the power cuts of the past weeks is not indicative of an open society”.
Today’s nuclear announcement follows the secretive procurement agreements signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and various nuclear vendor countries over the past few months. By November, the National Department of Energy announced that it has successfully concluded a second nuclear vendor parade workshop with delegations from China, France, South Korea and the United States of America. The first nuclear vendor parade workshop was held with the Russian state owned Rosatom in late October. The workshops resulted in Intergovernmental Framework Agreements with all of the potential nuclear vendor countries, but the contents of these agreements remain a public mystery and have not yet even been presented at parliament. Read More
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Press Release: Sasol Spends Profits on Undermining the State
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Johannesburg, 8th of September 2014- The world’s biggest coal-to-liquid fuel producer and the world’s largest on point source of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions, announced star performance full-year profits in Johannesburg this morning. The global polluter attributed its reported 7% profit increase from last year, to R41.7 billion, mainly to record synthetic fuel production which increased by fifteen percent. Sasol announces the profit, at the same time as it is taking the South African government to court in an attempt to undermine the states impending air pollution control legislation.
Sasol’s profits are better explained in terms of ‘profits from pollution’ than increased production. In 2013, the company reported emissions estimated at 158.4 kilotons (kt) of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 214.6 kt of sulphur oxides (SOx) and total particulate emissions of 11.7 kt. All emissions showed an increase from 2012 levels. Despite the reported increase in emissions, the polluter announced on May 21st of this year that it would be taking the National Department of Environmental Affairs to court in an attempt to not only avoid compliance with stricter air pollution controls, known as the Minimum Emission Standards, but to have them removed altogether. The Minimum Emission Standards for existing plants should come into effect by the 1st of April 2015 and will control the amounts of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and particulate matter which industry pumps into South African air. Read More
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