Archive for the ‘politics international’ Category

Senator Scott Ludlam probes the influence of USA on Australia’s negative approach to nuclear weapons ban treaty

June 12, 2017

Senator LUDLAM: …I want to turn to the opening day of the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations, 27 March this year. Having failed to prevent these negotiations occurring, the Trump administration’s ambassador to the UN held a protest outside the UN General Assembly Hall. Did Australia participate in the protest?

Senator LUDLAM: So we just stood there in mute solidarity with the Trump administration? As 130 UN member states started serious work on negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty, we were outside the room in a protest?

It is a shame that there will be no Australian representatives at the UN because these talks are scheduled to conclude at the end of June or early July

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE, UN – Nuclear Weapons Ban, 31st May 2017   http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/estimate/0a6ef7dd-2f88-423a-a01b-23b5c5b4e4c0/toc_pdf/Foreign%20Affairs,%20Defence%20and%20Trade%20Legislation%20Committee_2017_05_31_5055.pdf;fileType=application/pdf

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Senator LUDLAM: Can I speak to someone on the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons?

Senator LUDLAM: Can I speak to someone on the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons?

Mr Sadleir: Yes, Senator.

Senator LUDLAM: It is good that you are here, Mr Sadleir, because I want to ask a couple of questions about a meeting that occurred between 4 and 8 July 2016 that I understand you were present at. You and Ms Jane Hardy travelled to Washington, DC to meet with a range of, I understand, quite senior State Department and National

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Security Council people to discuss what was then referred to as the UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament. Can you confirm for us on the record that that meeting occurred and that you were in attendance?

[Here it took an extraordinarily long time for Mr Sadleir to admit that he was at this meeting]

‘……..Senator LUDLAM: I have not asked what you discussed yet. Were you in attendance at that meeting?
Mr Sadleir

?
Mr Sadleir: I was certainly in Washington. I would need to check my diary to get the precise dates but I was certainly there around that time.

Senator LUDLAM: I think that what will happen when you check the dates is that you will come back and confirm that you were in fact there. I will let you check the record. I would appreciate that. What was the purpose of those meetings? (more…)

Just the mere $2000 for every single Australian – the cost of submarines purchase from France

May 4, 2016

text-my-money-2

4. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE  So we spend $2,000 each. That just gets us the big lumps of steel. If you actually want to use them, you’re paying more. It could be another $2,000 to $4,000 per Australian….

OPTIONS   The great thing about the way the acquisition will work is there should be the opportunity to cut back from 12 when the inevitable delays and cost blowouts happen. From here we can’t save the whole $2000 but maybe we can save some, for better uses.

Sub standard: why the $2,000 we are each spending on submarines will probably be a terrible waste http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/design/sub-standard-why-the-2000-we-are-each-spending-on-submarines-will-probably-be-a-terrible-waste/news-story/6922de6f6a72657c669fdc1a1248916f APRIL 30, 2016, Jason Murphy news.com.au@jasemurphy  AUSTRALIA is spending $50 billion to buy submarines. The biggest whack of money we’ve ever spent on a Defence project. It comes out at $2000 per person. And it’s probably a shocking idea.

1. STRATEGY  The strategic rationale for submarines is that an island needs trade lanes to stay open. Yep, we do. But the kind of war where a country lays siege to another whole country — think German U-Boats blockading Britain — is no longer likely at all.

Our non-nuclear submarines would have been handy in the past. And the generals are always “fighting the last war” strategically. Which is fine. But it would be better if we didn’t have to give them $2000 to do so.

2. AVAILABILITY We are buying 12 boats. Except — here’s the thing — you can’t use them all at once.   Subs need a lot of maintenance. Take the Collins Class submarines, of which we have six. Best-case scenario — if things are going splendidly — is they spend half the time in the water, half in maintenance. But those subs have big problems. Some recent years we’ve managed to have basically just one in the water on average.

 So with our very expensive new fleet, realistically you could end up with just five or six boats in the water at any time. All of a sudden the strategic value looks even dimmer.

3. COST BLOWOUTS   The Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program, which we bought into, is now many billions of dollars over Budget. Possibly hundreds of billions (reports vary). And it is hardly alone.

We consistently underestimate how complex defence equipment is because we, naturally, compare it to a vehicle. But not only is our new submarine custom-made (unlike my station wagon) it is also cutting edge technology.

It has to do many things perfectly. A submarine is a fortress, an IT hub, a weapons system, a vehicle and a temporary home all in one. Making all the things fit in together is hard. (Recently Spanish submarine builders had to send their sub back to the drawing board after they accidentally made it 75 tons too heavy and it was going to sink.)

When you face the inevitable problems you can either compromise or just spend that bit more to make it work. And if you cut corners on Defence equipment, you risk losing personnel and very expensive equipment… So of course you spend a bit more. And that’s how such laughably enormous cost blowouts happen.

4. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE  So we spend $2,000 each. That just gets us the big lumps of steel. If you actually want to use them, you’re paying more. It could be another $2,000 to $4,000 per Australian over the next 45 years. All that maintenance is expensive. And so are the crews.

The Navy has had enormous problems actually finding and training crew for submarines. A cook on a submarine can be paid an amazing $200,000 per year. Other personnel get more. Living in a big steel tube for 80 days with only other men for company is rubbish, apparently.

5. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  Australia is the 52nd biggest country in the world by population, 13th by size of economy, and sixth by land area. We spend 13th most on defence. And we are ramping up by $26 billion per year over the next 10 years.

It is a lot, given we have no land borders, the natural advantage of being surrounded by a giant moat, and are strategically not on the way to anywhere much (sorry NZ).

The main reason anyone would attack us is in the context of a global or regional conflict is we have a large military they might fear.

Our spending has an effect on our neighbours. Indonesia is not a rich country, but they have indicated they are also thinking about expanding their submarine fleet. Would limiting our spending help forestall a local arms race?

OPTIONS   The great thing about the way the acquisition will work is there should be the opportunity to cut back from 12 when the inevitable delays and cost blowouts happen. From here we can’t save the whole $2000 but maybe we can save some, for better uses.

Secret nuclear negotiations: UK Hinkley, and Australia’s waste import plan

March 21, 2016

 

Royal Commission bubble burstSecret deals: Australia’s nuclear waste plan and the UK’s Hinkley project, Independent Australia 21 March 2016, The South Australian Government scheme to import international nuclear waste has a major flaw in common with the UK’s Hinkley Point C project — secret contracts with foreign organisations, writes Noel Wauchope.

THESE TWO PLANS have something in common. Both the UK’s Hinkley Point C plan and South Australia’s nuclear waste plan are grandiose and very expensive to set up.

But, more than that, they both require the involvement of foreign governments and companies, in secret arrangements.

The South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission‘s plan for importing international wastes already involves confidential communications from foreign companies. Put into operation, the plan will mean secret contracts — South Australia being beholden to the provisions of foreign laws regarding disclosure, shipping and transport security, insurance and other matters relating to a client nation’s high level nuclear wastes (HLNW).

Plans have been suggested for foreign companies paying up front towards the setting up of the waste facility, in exchange for “ironclad contracts”to later set up “Generation IV nuclear reactors. With foreign governments and companies involved, South Australia is very likely to become locked in to a deal from which it cannot escape. A later decision to pull out of the scheme would certainly entail heavy compensation payments to foreign companies.

Britain’s Hinkley Point C nuclear project is thoroughly embroiled in complicated negotiations with the government-owned companies of China and France. The major backer, Electricite De France(EDF) is in grave financial trouble and its financial director Thomas Piquemal has resigned, over this Hinkley project. EDF is being bailed out by the French government, so that the £18bn plan can go ahead. UK has had to agree to a contract with EDF, amounting to about £40bn in real terms, and providing State guarantees on insurance, among other matters. The plan locks the UK in, with compensation costs in the event of it being shut down, as shown in an unpublicised departmental “minute“:…….

Professor Catherine Mitchell, an energy policy expert at the University of Exeter, comments in The Guardian:

The £22bn “poison pill” effectively reduces the risk to zero for EDF and its backers, which is great for them. But from an outside perspective, it smacks of desperation.

There could be so many reasons over 35 years that you would want to close the plant, including rising costs, changes to the UK’s energy system or loss of public confidence……..

 However, in two important ways, the Australian situation is very different from that of the UK.

Firstly, although the UK Hinkley project is big, the South Australian nuclear waste plan is ginormous. Potentially sourcing high level nuclear wastes (HLNW) from around the world – USA, Canada, Europe, Asia – would be a massive operation, many decades in the setting up, many thousands of years in carrying it out. The money involved would be not dozens of billions of dollars in costs but hundreds of billions.

Secondly, for all the millions in dollars now being spent on the Royal Commission project – the trips abroad, forums, research, public relations and so on – the plan is nowhere near the point of agreement, whereas the UK plan is well advanced…….

It is vitally important for Australia to pay attention to the Royal Commission plan and to the scrutiny of  South Australian radiation expert Paul Langley.  and others. Unlike Britain, Australia has the opportunity to prevent this plan, while it’s still only a gleam in the eyes of Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce and the nuclear lobby. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/secret-deals-australias-nuclear-waste-plan-and-the-uks-hinkley-project,8797

South Australia Royal Commission nuclear waste import plan – dead in the water already?

February 13, 2016

Royal Commission bubble burst

Given the wildly optimistic price for waste modelled by the mid-scenario, not to mention the 56,000 tonnes of waste left over with no costed solution, and with all the uncertainties in developing the new technologies required, the simple conclusion is that this plan is simply all risk with no reward.

No-one else will line up to take advantage of this “once in a lifetime opportunity”, because the opportunity does not exist. The plan simply cannot succeed.

The impossible dream Free electricity sounds too good to be true. It is. A plan to produce free electricity for South Australia by embracing nuclear waste sounds like a wonderful idea. But it won’t work.  THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE Dan Gilchrist February 2016

“……NO GOOD OUTCOME The free energy utopia depends on two new, as yet unproven technologies: PRISM reactors, and cheap borehole disposal. The Edwards plan appears to rely on these technologies not only being successfully developed, but remaining entirely in Australian hands. Competition is certainly not addressed in the plan.

 It would be more realistic to assume that other countries would act on the same opportunities, if indeed they arose.
To implement the Edwards plan, Australia would need to spend around $10 billion to set up temporary storage, a reprocessing plant, and a pair of PRISMs. We would also need to import and store spent fuel.
 Furthermore, the importation of spent fuel would likely require a dedicated port and a fleet of specialised ships, and this is not costed in the plan.
The plan calls for spent fuel to begin to be imported and loaded into the dry-cask facility six years after the commencement of construction. It plans for the first PRISMs to be completed four years later. We could reasonably expect to have good data on the costs and methods of borehole storage well within this ten-year timeframe – as would any potential customers.
Having spent $10 billion (not including the cost of shipping or a new port) and ten years, and with several thousand tonnes of spent fuel in storage,42 there are, broadly speaking, two foreseeable outcomes:
1. If borehole and PRISM technologies, having been piloted commercially by Australia, are found to be as cheap and effective as hoped, other countries will have the opportunity to either use them themselves, or undercut our vast profits. It is not realistic to believe that Australia would continue to be paid five to ten times the cost of permanent storage alone. 43 Even if the hoped-for customers were nations that couldn’t use borehole or PRISM technology, a number of other countries could.
 2. If either technology is found to be too expensive for commercial deployment, or to have unforeseen safety problems, Australia will have locked itself into an expensive method of electricity generation with perhaps no longterm solution for the acquired waste.
In short: either the technology works and we face stiff competition, both from other countries and the low costs of the technologies themselves – in which case the numbers in the plan are completely wrong; or the technology doesn’t work as expected – in which case the numbers in the plan are completely wrong.
And in either case, the plan has still failed to cost a permanent solution for 56,000 tons of high-level waste – over 90 percent of the material taken in. The profits from the scheme would be spent in the early decades to subsidise the reactors and lower taxes, leaving future generations with a massive problem, and no plan or money left to deal with it.
There is no good outcome here.
Even if the technology succeeds, the business plan is fatally flawed. It is, in effect, a self-defeating plan. If it works, our customer base and commodity price dries up, killed by the very technologies we would have piloted at our own risk and at great expense.
Given the wildly optimistic price for waste modelled by the mid-scenario, not to mention the 56,000 tonnes of waste left over with no costed solution, and with all the uncertainties in developing the new technologies required, the simple conclusion is that this plan is simply all risk with no reward. No-one else will line up to take advantage of this “once in a lifetime opportunity”, because the opportunity does not exist. The plan simply cannot succeed. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/conservationsa/pages/496/attachments/original/1455085726/P222_Nuclear_waste_impossible_dream_FINAL.pdf?1455085726

Australian uranium miner with Russian funding, set to increase radioactive pollution in Karoo, South Africa

January 19, 2016

dust from mining

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts…… a particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction

Uranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  [Excellent] Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer Just as the threat of fracking seemed to recede in the Karoo, the danger of uranium mining has arisen – and it is even more frightening and more likely than shale gas extraction.

The Karoo has long been known to harbour substantial sedimentary uranium deposits. Now an Australian company [Peninsula Energy , through it’s wholly owned subsidiary Tasman Pacific Minerals Limited] with Russian funding is planning to get the radioactive mineral out of the ground on a major scale.

The company has quietly accumulated over 750 000 hectares of Karoo properties and concessions around Beaufort West and plans to set up a large Central Processing Plant just outside that town.

While the nation is still debating the pros and cons of fracking, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as the precursor to mining licences is nearing finalisation. During 2016 the Department of Mineral Resources will make a decision on the industry’s application……….

extensive studies on the risks of uranium mining over many decades are available today….yet so far there is no public debateno strategic assessment process in place in the Karoo.No advocacy groups balance the glossy claims of the industry against sobering experiences on the ground…..

According to its documents, Tasman RSA Mines today controls exclusive prospecting rights over more than 750 000 hectares in a circle of nearly 200 kilometres around Beaufort West.

About 32 000 hectares are directly owned under freehold by the company. Local farmers find it hard to resist purchase offers, as farming in this part of the Karoo is particularly difficult due to low rainfall and poor soils.

Unlike in fracking, farms are permanently damaged by uranium opencast mining………

So far the company has not indicated whether they would use in-situ-leaching’, a particularly dangerous but low-cost method. Here, large quantities of leaching agent are injected underground. The uranium is dissolved and recovered in well fields……

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts

The devastating impacts of uranium mining on people, especially the mine workers, and the environment have been well research and documented. Several studies of large number of cases and with exposure over many years (Wismut AG in the former East Germany, theColorado-Plateau in the USA, and Saskatchewan in Canada, have established  particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.

Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction……..http://karoospace.co.za/uranium-mining-threatens-the-karoo/

 

Nuclear Issues for 2016 – Australia’s role in them

January 6, 2016

skull nuclear world

Five big nuclear issues for 2016 — and Australia’s role in them, Independent Australia  Noel Wauchope 5 January 2016Nuclear issues got next to no discussion in Australia in 2015. That is sure to change in 2016 from five explosive factors, writesNoel Wauchope.

#1: Nuclear weapons  “……….. In the event of nuclear war, Pine Gap makes Australia both a participant and a target.

What the experts call a “limited nuclear war” between India and Pakistan is always on the cards as both nations ramp up their nuclear weaponry. What does Australia do about this? The Turnbull Government, ignoring the advice of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) and pro nuclear power expert Dr John Carlson, goes ahead with insecure uranium sales to India, thus contributing to that India-Pakistan arms race.

All these considerations will matter to Australia in a number of ways in 2016. An obvious example is in the diplomatic tightrope that our Government must walk in its relations with China — Australia’s largest export market.

#2: Indigenous rights……. For 2016, governments must have learned that Indigenous Australians are a force to be reckoned with and that non-Indigenous might join in that anti nuclear struggle. State governments, particularly Western Australia, have sought to strengthen the resources industries’ power to fight Aboriginal land rights. This has to be an issue for uranium mining in 2016 — whether mining developments can continue to ride roughshod over traditional Indigenous traditional land.

#3: Energy technologies Renewable energy is here to stay. ….. Australia leads the world in rooftop solar, with the highest portion of residential buildings with rooftop photovoltaic power. Despite government policy uncertainty, important solar research continues, community solar projects are developing, large scale solar projects are taking off, for example, in New South Wales. Wind power is now also taking off and has long shown its success in South Australia.…….. The nuclear lobby would have everyone believe that nuclear energy is the answer. But even they know that this is not a practical choice for Australia. In February, the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission will be announcing its recommendations. Its chief, Kevin Scarce, has already indicated that it is not likely to recommend nuclear power.

In 2016, Australia still has the opportunity to become a leader in truly clean renewable energy technologies, as energy storage systems become a reality…….With 2016 as an election year and with the ALP’s policy of a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, renewable energy developments form a challenging issue.

#4: Australia as the world’s nuclear waste dump…..  the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and all that will ensue from its recommendations. Commission head, Kevin Scarce, will no doubt cover his back with worthy statements about proceeding only if there is a social licence, but we can be pretty sure that this expensive year-long Royal Commission is not going to turn its back on its central idea — importing nuclear wastes. Meanwhile, in 2016, the ALP will have to face the push within its ranks to change its existing anti nuclear policy.

#5: The propaganda war….. there will be pressure on Australia’s academic and health authorities, as well, of course, on the mainstream media……. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/five-nuclear-issues-for-2016–and-australias-role-in-them,8544

Trouble ahead? Australian government doing nuclear deal with unstable Ukraine

December 30, 2015

Map-Ukraine-nuke-reactors

Ukraine to sign agreement on nuclear energy with Australia in 2016 http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/314722.html  29 Dec 15   Ukraine plans in 2016 to sign an agreement with Australia on cooperation in the field of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Director of the Department of Strategic Planning and European Integration at the Energy and Coal Industry Ministry of Ukraine Mykhailo Bno-Airiian has said.

“One of the main tasks for 2016 is the signing of an agreement between the government of Ukraine and Australia on cooperation in the field of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” he said at a briefing in Kyiv.

According to the department, the agreement has been agreed with the Australian government and is currently undergoing national procedures for its signature and ratification.

Uranium miner Paladin should close its Kayelekera mine and clean up its mess in Malawi

November 21, 2015

Kayelekera mine Paladin

Conservation Council of Western Australia, 20 Nov 15  Shareholders at Perth based company Paladin’s AGM will call for the non-operational Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi to be closed and rehabilitated. Calls for rehabilitation follow years of community opposition to the mine and failure to prevent the release of radioactive material into the environment.

The mine has been under ‘care and maintenance’ for several years due to the falling demand for uranium globally.

Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute who will be attending the meeting said “With predicted operating costs almost double the long-term uranium price, there is a real danger that Kaylekera will be abandoned or sold off to reduce company debt. Instead of endless optimism Paladin should be honest about the possibility of re-commencing of mining in the next few years and begin rehabilitation works to protect communities, secure the site and end the cycle of financial losses”.

Mia Pepper, CCWA nuclear free campaigner who is in Africa at the Nuclearization of Africa conference this week said “We’ve been asking, along with French group CRIIRAD, for Paladin to release monitoring data from testing downstream from the mine. CRIIRAD have completed intermittent tests which indicate there is some radiological impact from the Kayelekera mine on the environment.”

“As the mine is about to go into a third year of being in Care and Maintenance we are concerned about the ongoing management of water on site and the structural integrity of the site. We would like to see this mine going into early rehabilitation, given the failures of Paladin to address community concerns, the clear local opposition to the project and the failure to contain radiological material onsite and an uncertain future. Rehabilitation should be done to the same standards expected in West Australia.”

Paladin has two uranium exploration projects in WA, also on hold given the stagnant uranium price and no mid term prospects of improvement. Paladin’s project in Qld is on hold indefinitely given that the Queensland Government reinstated the ban on uranium in Qld. Their JV proposal in the NT is also indefinitely on hold given strong opposition from the NT Government and Alice Springs residents.

South Australia’s pro nuclear Premier – to tout “nuclear for climate” in Paris?

November 14, 2015

Weatherill,-Jay-wastes

Beware that little phrase “low carbon” . These days it is code for “nuclear”

They used to use the term “renewable” to mean nuclear – so including it with clean energy  as in solar, wind power. They still tout “clean” quite often, but can get pulled up on that.

Note that Jay Weatherill, pinning his political future on nuclear, could have chosen the term “renewable”, but he didn’t.

Energy plan: Jay Weatherill wants the State Government powered totally by “low carbon electricity” PREMIER Jay Weatherill wants the State Government to be powered totally by“low carbon electricity”, as he prepares to leave for an international climate change conference in Paris next month.(subscribers only) 
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/energy-plan-jay-weatherill-wants-the-state-government-powered-totally-by-low-carbon-electricity/story-fni6uo1m-1227605480514

Coal fan Australian govt wants to co-chair Green Climate Fund

October 31, 2015

hypocrisy-scale

Australia bids to co-chair the Green Climate Fund criticised by Tony Abbott, Canberra Times,  October 30, 2015  Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has launched a bid for Australia to co-chair the Green Climate Fund that former prime minister Tony Abbott once criticised as “a Bob Brown bank on an international scale”.

A decision on who the next two co-chairs of the fund will be is expected to be made in Zambia late next week. The co-chair positions are typically held by one developing and one developed country for a period of one year. Fairfax Media has learnt that Ms Bishop first proposed Australia put its name forward to co-chair the fund when Mr Abbott was still prime minister.

Final approval for the bid was not, however, forthcoming until the Liberal Party switched to Malcolm Turnbull last month…….

Greens climate change spokeswoman Larissa Waters, however, said the decision to nominate for the co-chair position was hypocritical given that, in her view, Australia’s estimated fair share contribution should be $350 million annually.

“Australia has no credibility in overseeing the Green Climate Fund when this government is simultaneously trying to open the southern hemisphere’s largest coal mine in Queensland,” she said.

“We are the largest per capita emitter of carbon pollution of any developed country and the Turnbull government’s measly reduction targets will keep it that way.”

The bid comes ahead of a crucial climate conference that will be held in Paris at the end of this year, which Ms Bishop, Environment Minister Greg Hunt and possibly Mr Turnbull will attend. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-bids-to-cochair-the-green-climate-fund-criticised-by-tony-abbott-20151030-gkmvv6.html#ixzz3q5fTp7CX