It has been an eventful month for nuclear energy in France. Earlier this month it was reported that the French state nuclear agency CEA was moving towards abandoning research into the so-called fourth-generation nuclear reactions, after having invested hundreds of millions of euros into the ASTRID project developing a new sodium-cooled reactor. Towards the end of September the majority state-owned power group EDF announced it was planning to shut down the country’s oldest nuclear power plant in Fessenheim earlier than planned, partly due to the criticism the EDF faced over welding issues at some of its plants. The EDF declared it plans to focus on more modern nuclear power plants.
The UK has marked a recent rise in minor incidents involving IED use in Northern Ireland. This comes amid rising tensions surrounding the Brexit negotiations, specifically in the Northern Irish Derry/Londonderry region. In early September a mortar device was found in Strabane, followed by a notable incident a few days later, which saw the police EOD team investigating a suspicious device attacked by a crowd throwing petrol bombs. The suspect device was later disabled by the Army’s EOD team. The police claimed the pro-republican group the New IRA was responsible for this device.
An explosion and a subsequent fire tore through the Vektor research center near Novosibirsk in Russia. The explosion took place during refurbishment works, however in an official statement the center claims no biological contamination took place, as no work with biological materials was being undertaken at that moment. The center is studying lethal viruses including Ebola and HIV. It possesses one of the world’s largest collections of viruses, and it reportedly used to be a Cold War biological weapons center.
At the beginning of September Iran declared it would further reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the remaining European signatories fail to shield Tehran’s economy from the impact of reinstated US sanctions, following Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement. The IAEA watchdog later confirmed Iran has begun installing more advanced centrifuges and began to move towards enriching uranium with them, which is in direct contravention of the 2015 treaty.
Afghanistan experienced another intense month of deadly IED bombings, including a large explosion destroying a hospital in Qalat. The majority of the attacks were claimed by the Taliban. These events come amidst a crisis in planned peace talks between the US and the Taliban, as well as the Afghan presidential elections marked by a low turnout, partly due to the threats of polling station bombings issued by the Taliban. During the month of August at least 473 civilians were killed in the conflict.