Posts Tagged ‘Czech Republic’

Hong Kong firms join forces to make deals under Silk Road plan

June 19, 2017

Companies will draw on their experience to initially establish infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam

By Josh Ye
South China Morning Post

Monday, June 19, 2017, 8:48pm

Hong Kong companies will form a consortium to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam under mainland China’s Silk Road project, the Trade Development Council says.

Council president Vincent Lo Hong-sui said over 40 business leaders from Hong Kong and Shanghai formed a delegation while visiting the two countries last month and met both prime ministers.

He added that this was one of many steps in further involving Hong Kong companies with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Lo said the statutory body was now forming “a consortium of local companies” to help them enter these developing markets as a collective force.

“We are looking to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in countries under the belt and road initiative.”

The initiative was launched by Beijing in 2013 to promote the building of railways, roads, power plants and other infrastructure projects in 60 countries from Asia to Europe on its old Silk Road to promote trade and economic growth.

The council has identified eight countries out of the 65 under the scheme as the initial destinations for Hong Kong investment – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Nicholas Kwan, research director at the council, said Hong Kong investors were seasoned in managing supply chain systems across countries.

 Vincent Lo says numerous multibillion-dollar deals will be closed this year. Photo: Sam Tsang

Lo said the development level of many of the belt and road countries reminded him of mainland China three decades ago.

“Hong Kong investors have garnered a lot of practical experience in developing mainland China,” he said. “This experience is unique and will definitely benefit other countries.”

He said the council aimed to close several deals this year and estimated some projects were worth more than US$10 billion.

Lo added that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had told him the next administration would fully support the council in furthering deals with countries linked to the trade initiative.

The council also announced that it would host its second belt and road summit in September, which looked to introduce more concrete plans for local firms to enter relevant countries.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2099050/hong-kong-firms-join-forces-make-deals-under-silk-road-plan

Czech Social Democrats pledge to cut tax for workers, tighten control of big business

June 17, 2017

Reuters

PRAGUE: The Social Democrats, the senior partner in the Czech Republic’s ruling coalition but trailing in the polls, will try to lure back voters before the October elections by offering tax cuts for workers while tightening control of big business.

The party unveiled its election programme days after Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he would step down as leader of the country’s oldest party in an attempt to reverse its slide in opinion polls.

In its programme, the party promised to cut taxes for employees, extend holidays to five weeks, raise the minimum wage to at least 16,000 crowns (536.12 pounds) a month by 2022 and other incentives.

It also repeated a pledge from previous elections to introduce progressive taxation on big banks’ assets and to clamp down on tax evasion by big business conglomerates.

In an attempt to shake things up, Sobotka proposed this week that his more popular and eloquent foreign minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, should lead the party’s campaign into the Oct. 20-21 general election.

Zaoralek said on Saturday that the country needed consensus at home to make progress.

Image result for Lubomir Zaoralek, photos

Lubomir Zaoralek

“The Left will not be convincing if it will not honour national interests,” he said, adding that the party could also borrow the slogan “to help and to protect” from police cars.

Although the government has presided over a growing economy that helped it deliver the first balanced budget in two decades, the Social Democrats have slipped in the polls behind their main rival and coalition partner ANO.

All recent polls have shown ANO leading the Social Democrats, in some cases by a double-digit margin.

ANO was founded and is chaired by billionaire and former Finance Minister Andrej Babis, who has attracted voters with his managerial approach to governing and with his image as a political outsider.

The parties, together with the Christian Democrats, came to power in a centre-left coalition in January 2014 and are on course to becoming the first government in 15 years in the central European country to finish its term.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Adrian Croft)

 

EU Battle Over Migrants Intensifies as European Commission Launches a Legal Case Against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic

June 14, 2017

Commission moves against Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic, which have not cooperated with relocation agreement

.A refugee boy holds his baby brother at the port of Piraeus, Greece, in February 2016.
A refugee boy holds his baby brother at the port of Piraeus, Greece, in February 2016. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

The European commission has launched a legal case against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to take in refugees, intensifying a bitter feud within the bloc about how to deal with migration.

The Eurosceptic governments in Poland and Hungary have refused to take in anyone under a plan agreed by a majority of EU leaders in 2015 to relocate migrants from frontline states Italy and Greece to help ease their burden. The Czech Republic initially accepted 12 people but has since said it would not welcome more.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the EU’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: “I regret to see that despite our repeated calls to pledge to relocate, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland have not yet taken the necessary action.

“For this reason, the commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three member states … I sincerely hope that these member states can still reconsider their position and contribute fairly.”

The legal action is likely to reinvigorate the debate over the independence of EU states from Brussels. It kickstarts months, or even years, of legal wrangling before a top EU court could potentially impose financial penalties.

Out of 160,000 refugees due to be taken under the scheme agreed in 2015, only 20,869 have been relocated. In theory, countries can be fined for every refugee in the quota they fail to accept.

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, nosediving in the polls and facing elections in November, claimed the commission was “blindly insisting on pushing ahead with dysfunctional quotas which decreased citizens’ trust in EU abilities and pushed back working and conceptual solutions to the migration crisis”.

He added: “Given the deteriorating security situation in Europe and the non-functioning of the quota system, the Czech government will not participate in it. We are ready to defend our position in the EU and the relevant judicial institutions.”

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/13/eu-takes-action-against-eastern-states-for-refusing-to-take-refugees

Europe’s resolve on fighting climate change seems to be flagging

May 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Céline SERRAT | The European Union took on emissions-cutting targets that analysts say are too low to stay under the ceiling for average global warming set in the Paris pact — no more than two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels

PARIS (AFP) – The 28-member European Union, the third-largest emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases after China and the United States, has long been held up as the poster child of efforts to save Earth’s climate.

But after years of taking the lead in talks for a global climate pact, and making tough policy and investment choices to lessen fossil fuel reliance at home, the bloc’s resolve now seems to be flagging, analysts say.

Europe is responsible for about 10 percent of global emissions.

As the world’s nations meet in Bonn to negotiate a rulebook for executing the climate-rescue Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 to limit emissions from burning oil, coal, and gas, here is a look at Europe’s role.

– History –

Having been at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution that sparked the large-scale carbon dioxide pollution of Earth’s atmosphere now blamed for global warming, Europe took the lead hundreds of years later in shifting to cleaner energy generated by sources such as the Sun, waves and wind.

It was instrumental in passing, and keeping alive, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement’s predecessor, despite opposition from the United States and other developed countries.

Europe also created the first, still the biggest, carbon market in a bid to incentivise companies to pollute less.

The Emissions Trading System limits emissions and allows companies to trade in allowances not used.

– Then what happened? –

The carbon market, which covers about 40 percent of Europe’s industrial emissions, has proven ineffective, critics say, and needs urgent reform.

Carbon allowances were too generous, resulting in a carbon price too low to encourage savings.

The bloc also took on emissions-cutting targets that analysts say are too low to stay under the ceiling for average global warming set in the Paris pact — no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

The EU pledged to reduce its own emissions by 20 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels — a goal it is on course to exceed.

With three years to go, the target has already been met even if five countries — Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and Ireland — are not on track to achieve their national goals.

The European Environment Agency expects the bloc will reach 24 percent in 2020.

This goes to show that the target was too “modest” to begin with, according to Celia Gautier of the Climate Action Network, a grouping of NGOs.

By 2020, Europe also seeks to boost energy efficiency (less fossil fuel input for the same energy output) by 20 percent, and ensure that 20 percent of energy consumed is from renewables.

According to Eurostat, an agency of the European Commission, renewable energy consumption in Europe was already 16.7 percent in 2014.

“In the wake of the Paris Agreement’s entry into force, the EU’s climate policy effort appears to be slowing, and it has not effectively responded” to an aspirational 1.5 C lower limit also written into the pact, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a tool created by think-tanks to measure countries’ progress.

– What’s next? –

Europe’s medium- and long-term ambitions are even more problematic.

It is targeting a 40-percent domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 over 1990 levels, which the CAT says is “significantly behind what is achievable and necessary”.

And it is not on track to meet even that — currently steering for 30-39 percent.

According to the CAT, Europe needs to reduce emissions by about two percent per year to achieve a 45-50-percent cut by 2030 — a trajectory more in line with the Paris accord’s objectives.

But emissions are projected to slow only between 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent per year.

Europe is not alone — the CAT says all major emitters, the US, China, India and Russia included, need to do much more for the world to stay under 2 C.

– Further ahead –

For 2050, the EU bloc has set its sights on a 80-95-percent reduction from 1990, which the CAT says would require “significant acceleration”.

According to Climate Analytics, a policy institute, 300 coal-fired power stations have to close in Europe by 2030, if the Paris goals are to be met.

Half of Europe’s coal emissions come from Germany and Poland, the rest mainly from Bulgaria and Czech Republic — countries with relatively smaller reduction goals than their richer European peers.

“To achieve total decarbonisation of the global economy by the second half of the 21st century (as mooted in the Paris Agreement), Europe must, as an industrial leader, be among the first to achieve it,” said David Levai, a researcher at the IDDRI research institute in Paris.

by Céline SERRAT

Hungary and Slovakia take EU refugee quota scheme to court

May 10, 2017

Budapest has urged a new EU-wide mechanism to deport migrants, saying that deportation is “mostly not possible” in current conditions. Hungary and Slovakia filed a joint case against the EU’s refugee distribution scheme.

Ungarn Grenzzaun zwischen Serbien und Ungarn (picture alliance/dpa/MTI/B. Mohai)
Hungary sues EU at European Court of Justice over migrant quotas

Hungary has said it has filed a law suit against the European Union (EU), over plans to redistribute hundreds of thousands of refugees. Budapest has also launched a nationwide media campaign against the quota system. (03.12.2015)

Representatives of the two nations addressed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday in a bid to dispute the EU’s decision to distribute migrants throughout the bloc on a quota basis. Faced with hundreds of thousands of migrants sailing to Italian and Greek shores,  the EU Council decided to lighten the load by distributing newcomers among the remaining members states. However, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic all voted against the move.

Bratislava and Budapest decided to take the decision to court, disputing its legal basis.

“We have complied a ten-point list of reasons we believe this decision to be illegal,” Hungary’s Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi told  German daily “Welt.” The decision to assign quotas also sends the wrong signal to potential migrants, the minister said.

This message is “Go ahead and come to Europe, we will handle the distribution,” according to Trocsanyi. “Secondly, it’s not effective. These people want to go to very specific countries, not countries like Romania, Bulgaria, or Hungary. Those who were sent to Latvia were back in Germany in just two days.”

“Thirdly, it’s an issue of sovereignty,” he added.

Hungary waits for ECJ judges

According to the quota agreement,  EU members were required to take in over 100,000 immigrants from its two most burdened states. “Almost two years later, only 14 percent of refugees have been relocated from Italy and 18 of those from Greece,” Trocsanyi added.

Karte Ungarn Grenzstädte Kroatien Serbien EnglischHungary constructed barbed wire fence on border with Serbia and Croatia

The ECJ judges are expected to pass their ruling in several months time. If the court upholds the EU’s decision, Hungary and Slovakia will accept the ruling, the official said.

“Hungary abides by the law and fulfils its duties,” he said.

Frontex to take over deportation

The EU’s deportation policy is among the biggest problems of the refugee crisis, as returning migrants to their home countries is “mostly not possible,” the minister told “Welt.”

Budapest wants a new, Europe-wide solution to ease deportation, by boosting the EU’s border protection agency Frontex.

“We need to provide Frontex with new abilities and financial support, in order to organize flights and take migrants back to their home countries if they don’t qualify for protection,” Trocsanyi said.

Especially for the smaller countries, it would be “more effective if EU’s Frontex negotiates return with migrant home countries, than for example Hungary negotiating with Afghanistan.”

http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-and-slovakia-take-eu-refugee-quota-scheme-to-court/a-38781422

Hungary investigated by EU over law threatening top university (funded by George Soros)

April 13, 2017

EU Tells Hungary and Poland They Must Take Migrants or EU Will Take Legal Action

April 13, 2017

Russia Today (RT)

Hungary & Poland must take in refugees or face Brussels’ action – EU Commission

EU Tells Poland, Hungary to Take in Migrants or Face Legal Action — Expect a Fight

April 12, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive stepped up pressure on Poland and Hungary on Wednesday to take in asylum seekers under the bloc’s migration plan or risk legal action if their reluctant governments refuse.

Warsaw and Budapest have stonewalled the scheme to move 160,000 people from Italy and Greece – the main ports of arrival – to elsewhere in the EU. Other member states have also dragged their feet, leaving the divisive plan stalled.

The eurosceptic governments in Poland and Hungary have also put their media and judiciary under tighter state control, raising concerns in Brussels and other EU capitals that they are infringing on the bloc’s democratic checks and balances.

The influx of some 1.6 million refugees and migrants into the EU in 2014-2016 has led to rows on how to share the burden among member states. Only about 16,340 people have been moved so far under the emergency scheme that ends in September.

“If Member States do not increase their relocations soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers … for those which have not complied,” the bloc’s executive arm said in a statement.

The Commission had proposed to fine member states for failing to take in migrants, but there has been little political backing for such a step. A court case would not resolve the issue quickly, but could add to mounting pressure for action from other EU states.

Migrants make their way through the countryside after they crossed the Hungarian-Croatian border near the village of Zakany in Hungary on October 16, 2015 | © AFP/File | Hanna Sonia

Italy has been in the forefront of calling for cuts to EU subsidies to Poland and Hungary over migration. Germany, Sweden, Austria and France – the most frequent final destinations – have also been stepping up pressure on the hold-outs.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have taken in only a few asylum seekers and the European Commission also underlined their weak response to the plan.

The Commission statement recalled the relocation plan was decided by EU leaders in September 2015 despite Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania voting against it. Although generally opposed to it, Poland eventually voted with majority.

RARE GOOD NEWS

In rare good news, Brussels noted that Austria has now decided to join the relocation programme. Vienna was previously exempted since it had taken in some 90,000 asylum seekers in 2015 as it sits on one of the key migratory routes into Europe.

Austria’s interior minister said he would make preparations for the country to receive people, with the first group expected to be around 50 unaccompanied children from Italy.

Some 14,000 people are currently eligible for relocation from Greece, the Commission said. It recommended that Italy speed up the necessary legal and security proceedings as it currently only has some 3,500 people waiting to be moved.

EU officials are split over whether to open legal proceedings over relocation, with some noting Poland and Hungary should be punished for undermining the bloc’s solidarity.

Others say that such so-called “infringements” would have to be launched against just about every EU state since so many cut corners on various agreements.

Hungary has filed its own lawsuit against the relocation scheme, which assigns each EU state a specific number of asylum seekers to receive. A hearing at the EU’s top European Court of Justice is due on May 10.

Poland’s and Hungary’s disputes over migration with the bloc are just one area on which the two post-communist countries, now governed by eurosceptics, clash with Brussels and the wealthier western European states.

The bloc has voiced concern over the weakening of the rule of law and undermining of democratic standards by both Budapest under Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Warsaw under the right-wing government of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The Commission on Wednesday separately warned Hungary it risked being sued in court over a number of Orban’s policies.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Related:

Rejecting Brussels? Le Pen Gains Ground in France, Geert Wilders Refuses to Fail in the Netherlands — Is This The Unmaking of Europe?

February 25, 2017
A MASSIVE protest vote in France could tip the election the way of Marine Le Pen as claims the electorate is queuing up to give the country’s establishment a ‘slap in the face’.
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PUBLISHED: 04:55, Sat, Feb 25, 2017 | UPDATED: 09:04, Sat, Feb 25, 2017
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Front National leader Marine Le Pen has again surged in the polls in France as she attempts to become the country’s first female president.
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Mrs Le Pen is continuing to gain ground on her opponents as the hotly anticipated election gets set to shake the country to its very foundations.

According to a poll by Opinionway Le Pen is in the lead of the first round of voting in the French presidential election.

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She is tipped to get 26 per cent, Emmanuel Macron has dropped to just 23 per cent while scandal-hit Francois Fillon is on just 21 per cent.
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Mr Macron who has been forced to apologise over comments he made on colonisation is still polling to beat Le Pen in any run-off by 61 per cent to 39 per cent.

The statistics come as it was revealed

French prosecutors had now appointed a magistrate to investigate allegations could put a further dent in his election chances.

Marine Le Pen is popular with the French police GETTY

Marine Le Pen is popular with the French police

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However, it is being suggested that France is steadying itself for a shocking win for Mrs Le Pen as members of the public speak out on why they are planning to back the Front National party.
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According to a new report the public in France is reacting badly to corruption scandals, public spending and broken promises.

One woman, Baker Carole Tremblais, who lives in the town of Descartes echoed the sentiment of the public with certainty.

She told Bloomberg: “Voting for Le Pen in the first round might be a good way of giving the system a slap in the face.

“The politicians in power have no idea what living on the minimum wage is like. Immigrants are treated better than the French are.”

Marine Le Pen is continuing to gain ground on her opponents GETTY

Marine Le Pen is continuing to gain ground on her opponents as the polls narrow

Mrs Le Pen’s strategy on Europe could be working on the electorate in a society more and more concerned about the EU.
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Almost 12 years ago 10 countries in the European Union decided they would allow the public to go to the ballot box to decide whether they would support the EU constitution.

But after France and the Netherlands voted overwhelmingly to remove themselves from the bloc’s constitution, six other countries cancelled their referendums.

And France and the Netherlands simply ignored the will of their people after they overwhelmingly rejected Brussels.
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.The crunch vote on the EU in both countries sent shockwaves through the establishment – prompting the UK, Portugal, Poland, Denmark, Ireland and the Czech Republic to cancel their votes.

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In France almost 55 per cent of people voted No with 45 per cent in favour, with a turnout of 70 per cent.
.The result in France was described as a “political earthquake” that would shake the foundations of the EU administration to its core.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was quickly replaced by Dominique de Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy became Minister of the Interior.

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Sarkozy was then later elected as President of the French Republic in May 2007 and organised a renegotiation and ratification without a referendum, leaving the public furious.
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Eventually he brought the Lisbon Treaty to Parliament, against the wishes of the 15,449,508 people who voted no, and pushed the treaty through instead.

US ‘nuclear sniffer’ plane flies to Norway – where radiation particles spreading across Europe were first detected – as mystery still surrounds the source

February 24, 2017

Image may contain: airplane, sky and outdoor

USAF WC-135 Constant Phoenix

  • WC-135 Constant Phoenix was deployed to RAF Mildenhall in Britain last week 
  • Plane detects radiation from explosion in the air, used after Chernobyl disaster 
  • Comes after spike in the levels of radioactive Iodine-131 in Europe was detected
  • Radioactive particles have moved from Eastern Europe towards the UK 

A US Air Force ‘sniffer’ plane which took off from Sussex today was on a mission to find evidence of nuclear activity or explosion, according to strong rumours.

The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which is specially modified to collect atmospheric samples, flew out of RAF Mildenhall on operational sorties.

The specialist equipment enables the crew to detect radioactive debris ‘clouds’ in real time is believed to be heading towards northern Europe and the Barents Sea.

News of the deployment comes amid claims Russia may be testing nuclear weapons, either to the east or in the arctic, after a spike in radioactivity was reported.

According to spotters a second ‘spy’ plane was also deployed from Mildenhall.

The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which is known as a nuclear 'sniffer' plane, was deployed to Britain last week on an undisclosed mission (file image from a previous mission in 2011)

The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which is known as a nuclear ‘sniffer’ plane, was deployed to Britain last week on an undisclosed mission (file image from a previous mission in 2011)

Air quality stations in Norway, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain have detected the presence of Iodine-131 at low levels

Air quality stations in Norway, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain have detected the presence of Iodine-131 at low levels

It is not the first time the Constant Phoenix has visited the British airbase, but the latest deployment reflects growing concern about an alleged spike in iodine levels recorded in northern Europe.

This has fuelled speculation that the WC-135 has been called in to investigate the cause of the higher-than-normal levels of Iodine-131.

Air quality stations across the continent detected traces of radioactive Iodine-131 in January and February, which seem to have come from eastern Europe.

The high levels of Iodine-131 has led some to suggest Putin is testing nuclear weapons in Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic.

The spike in Iodine-131 has sparked speculation that Russian president Vladimir Putin is testing nuclear weapons in Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic

The spike in Iodine-131 has sparked speculation that Russian president Vladimir Putin is testing nuclear weapons in Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic

However, the CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation) ruled out a nuclear test had recently taken place.

Similar aircraft were used in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986 and the Fukushima incident in Japan six years ago by collecting particles and chemical substances in the atmosphere, days, weeks and months after they were dispersed.

The aircraft is equipped with external flow-through devices which collect particulates on filter paper and on board among its crew are special equipment operators from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

On operational sorties like today’s from RAF Mildenhall the crew is normally minimized to pilots, navigator, and special equipment operators, to reduce radiation exposure to mission-essential personnel only.

In a statement on Monday, the CTBTO said: ‘If a nuclear test were to take place that releases I-131 it would also be expected to release many other radioactive isotopes.

‘Thus the CTBTO measures isotopes. No other nuclear fission isotopes have been measured at elevated levels in conjunction with I-131 in Europe so far.’

The organisation, which operates a worldwide monitoring system, said that it was not concerned about the reports of Iodine-131 in Europe.

‘No detections above typical local historical levels have been observed,’ the CTBTO said.

The deployment of the WC-135 aircraft, which detects and identifies explosions from the air and was used after the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Ukraine in 1986, adds weight to the argument.

The plane was deployed to RAF Mildenhall in Britain (pictured) but it is still not clear exactly why it has been sent to Europe

The plane was deployed to RAF Mildenhall in Britain (pictured) but it is still not clear exactly why it has been sent to Europe

The US Air Force plane was tracked flying into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last week on an undisclosed mission 

The US Air Force plane was tracked flying into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last week on an undisclosed mission

WHAT COULD HAVE CAUSED THE SPIKE?

A NUCLEAR REACTOR LEAK IN EASTERN EUROPE

An air filter station in Svanhovd, Norway, was the first place to measure the Iodine-131 in the second week of January.

Next it was measured in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland.

Within two weeks, it was traced in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.

This movement led the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) to suggest the particles may have originated in Eastern Europe.

It’s possible that the particles could have come from an incident at a nuclear reactor.

IODINE PLANT LEAK

The compounds may also have also come from an Iodine plant.

The isotope Iodine-131 is used in medicine to treat to thyroid problems and is produced commercially across Europe.

RECENT EVENT

The isotope has a half-life of only eight days, so whatever caused the spike must have happened in the first two weeks of January.

‘It was rough weather in the period when the measurements were made, so we can’t trace the release back to a particular location,’ Astrid Liland, head of emergency preparedness at the NRPA, told the Barents Observer.

It’s arrival comes amid tense times between Russia and the West, with America’s highest ranking military officer General Joe Dunford comparing the political climate to that during the Cold War.

He said that his meeting with General Valeriy Gerasimov, his counterpart in the Kremlin, is ‘absolutely critical’ as the tension between the two nations verges on breaking point.

It comes after two Russian jets flew low over a Royal Navy destroyer docked off the coast of Romania in a show of force branded ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ by Navy officers.

And a Russian spy ship armed with surface-to-air missiles with a crew of 200 sailed within 30 miles of a key US submarine base on the Connecticut coastline.

Scores of people filmed a mysterious light travelling through the sky at the weekend and the US Navy released a statement saying its testing of two Trident missiles was ‘not in response to any world events’

The US Navy have been contacted for comment on the WC-135 but it has not yet released any official comment on the purpose of its mission.

And while it is not unheard of for the planes to fly to Europe, missions are rare and its arrival coincides with the detection of Iodine-131.

It was first recorded in Norway and have now been found in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.

The isotope has a half-life of only eight days, which suggests the particles must have entered the atmosphere after a recent event.

The pattern of movement of the particles suggests they may have originated in Eastern Europe, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA).

The pattern of movement of the radioactive particles suggests they may have originated in Eastern Europe, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) 

The pattern of movement of the radioactive particles suggests they may have originated in Eastern Europe, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA)

HOW THE ‘SNIFFER’ TESTS THE AIR

The WC-135 is known as the ‘sniffer’ or ‘weather bird’ by its crews because of its unique role in the sky.

It gathers effluent gasses with two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which then trap fallout particles on filters that the crew can analyse in real time.

They can then use the data to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved.

It can use the materials in the air to confirm the type of explosion, for example, whether it is from a warhead or a power plant.

The WC-135 can also be used to track radioactive activity, which it did after the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011.

One was also deployed near North Korea in anticipation of Kim Jong-un’s rocket launches.

A WC-135 was also seen transiting into UK airspace in August 2013 raising speculation it was used in Syria after claims chemical weapons have been used.

The plane has a maximum crew of 33. However, it usually flies with a minimal crew to lessen the risk of chemical exposure.

‘It was rough weather in the period when the measurements were made, so we can’t trace the release back to a particular location,’ Astrid Liland, head of emergency preparedness at the NRPA, told the Barents Observer.

‘Measurements from several places in Europe might indicate it comes from Eastern Europe.

‘Increased levels of radioactive iodine in air were made in northern-Norway, northern-Finland and Poland in week two, and in other European countries the following two weeks.’

She said it is difficult to pinpoint where the radioactive material came from.

It’s possible that the particles could have come from an incident at a nuclear reactor.

An explosion at a plant run by French firm EDF – just 75 miles across the Channel – added to concerns over nuclear safety earlier this month.

Scientists are yet to explain where the radioactive material came from but the particles may have come from an incident at a nuclear reactor. Pictured above is the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Scientists are yet to explain where the radioactive material came from but the particles may have come from an incident at a nuclear reactor. Pictured above is the Chernobyl nuclear power plant

The company, which is planning Britain’s first nuclear power station in a generation, was forced to shut down its nuclear reactor at the Flamanville plant in Normandy after the blast caused a fire that left five people suffering from smoke inhalation.

WHY IS IODINE-131 DANGEROUS?

Iodine-131 has a very short half life of just eight days, making it very radioactive.

When it is present in high levels in the environment, it contaminates food.

After it is swallowed it will accumulate in the thyroid.

As it decays, it damages body tissue and can cause thyroid cancer.

However levels present in the atmosphere today are too low to be damaging.

But the compounds may also have also come from an Iodine plant. The isotope Iodine-131 is used in medicine to treat to thyroid problems and is produced commercially across Europe.

Iodine-131 can cause harm because it has a very short half life of just eight days, making it very radioactive.

When it is present in high levels in the environment, it can contaminate food and after it is swallowed it accumulates in the thyroid.

As it decays, it damages body tissue and can cause thyroid cancer.

However levels present in the atmosphere today are too low to be damaging, according to Ms Liland.

She said: ‘We do measure small amounts of radioactivity in air from time to time because we have very sensitive measuring equipment.

‘The measurements at Svanhovd in January were very, very low. So were the measurements made in neighbouring countries, like Finland.

‘The levels raise no concern for humans or the environment.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4250098/US-nuclear-sniffer-plane-flies-Norway.html#ixzz4ZbmW0JA0
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