World News Brief, Thursday March 17

Nuclear crisis grows with further damage to reactors (+ analysis); Japanese Emperor makes rare public appearance to urge "hope"; China postpones nuclear projects; Pakistan court frees CIA's Raymond Davis; Violent crackdown in Bahrain; and more

Top of the Agenda: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Intensifies

In the escalating nuclear crisis to hit Japan, a second reactor unit at Fukushima Daiichi plant (NYT) may have ruptured and appears to be releasing radioactive steam. The break at the number three reactor aggravated the already dangerous conditions at the plant, a day after officials said the containment vessel in the number two reactor had also cracked. Efforts to extinguish spent fuel were thwarted after high radiation levels (WSJ) in the atmosphere above forced the abandonment of a plan to dump water from a helicopter on the power plant's center. In addition, officials say the waste fuel kept at a storage pool at one of the reactors appeared to be heating up. Tokyo Electric Power, the plant's operator, ordered its skeleton crew of fifty workers to temporarily move away from reactors inside the plant after radiation levels (FT) jumped.

In an extremely rare appearance, the emperor of Japan appeared on live TV to make his first public comments on the disaster, and urged an all-out rescue effort (BBC). About four hundred and fifty thousand people have been staying in temporary shelters since the earthquake, and at least ten thousand people are feared dead.


An extraordinary series of events caused Japan's nuclear crisis, but it appears backup safety systems were flawed, says nuclear expert Charles Ferguson. He expects the disaster to slow some nuclear projects elsewhere but not cause a wholesale stoppage.

In this article for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, James Acton details what happened at Fukushima nuclear power plant and what needs to be done to avert further problems.

For the Brookings Institution, Nathan Hultman explains why the events at Fukushima will complicate planning for nuclear power expansion in the coming years.

This article from Stratfor discusses the confluence of energy-related developments around the globe, and how the crisis in Japan highlights the nation's lack of control over these strategic resources.


This chart from the Economist lists the world's largest nuclear-energy producers.

This interactive Nuclear Energy Guide from CFR explores the past, present, and future of nuclear power, focusing on its unique benefits and risks.


This interactive from the New York Times provides maps and photographs of places in Japan that were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In this CFR Media Conference Call, Sheila Smith and Michael Levi discuss Japan's earthquake and its political, economic, and energy implications.


PACIFIC RIM: China to Postpone Nuclear Projects

According to China's State Council (WSJ), Beijing will suspend approving new nuclear projects until updated safety rules are ready. Chinese government experts believe radioactive material from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant won't harm public health in China



- Pakistan Court Frees Raymond Davis
- US Sends Drones into Mexico

- Bahrain Protesters Driven from Pearl Square


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