Russian election interference is cause for considerable concern, but now there are reports of other possible interference that could prove even more disastrous: Possible interference with our nuclear power plants.

Should such meddling become imminent, the mainstream media will be awash in experts saying don’t worry, there are nuclear power safeguards six ways to Sunday. Surely that’s what Ukrainians were told before the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, and the Japanese before the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

There may indeed be many safeguards, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to work. Nuclear power plants – and their safeguards – are designed and constructed by people, and people make mistakes. The 1979 nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was, per official report, caused by “inadequate training” and “human factors.”

Like I said.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is still 1,004 square miles, 83 percent the size of Rhode Island. More than 300,000 people were displaced by the meltdown. Territory half the size of Italy was contaminated. Plant life as far away as Norway was affected and rendered inedible.

Safeguards didn’t save Chernobyl.

More than 150,000 people who were living within 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of Fukushima remain displaced from their ancestral lands. But we may never know the full extent of that disaster, as the Japanese government has imposed a news blackout on Fukushima and has been lying about it for seven years. The abandoned reactor is still spewing radioactive water that has affected marine life as far away as the U.S. west coast, more than 5,000 miles away.

Safeguards didn’t save Fukushima.

In 1966, there was a partial meltdown at the Fermi nuclear power plant in Newport, Michigan, 139 miles upwind from Detroit, then a city of 1.6 million.

But all that could be dwarfed by the Indian Point nuclear power plant, whose aging containment walls are brittle as taco shells. Indian Point is 36 miles from midtown Manhattan. New York metro population is 20 million.
No one knows what might happen if Russia were to start interfering with any of our nuclear power plants. It’s anyone’s guess.

To deter Russian “aggression,” we have imposed sanctions on Russia since its 2014 taking back of the Crimean peninsula. But U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered with our 2016 elections. Clearly the sanctions aren’t working.

But there is a possible solution to all this. As with North Korea, the only real solution is to sit down and talk.
But don’t expect Russia to roll over. It won’t. Russia is a big, strong country with a proud history. Russia has 11 time zones. It is more than 50 percent bigger than the U.S. Rolling over is not in President Vladimir Putin’s DNA, and it would be political suicide for him to roll over, as it would be, ultimately, for any leader anywhere.

And Russia has legitimate national security concerns. It has been invaded repeatedly for centuries. The 1917-1923 post-Russian Revolution counter-revolution – supported by, among others, the United States – killed at least 2.7 million. In World War II, the Soviet Union lost 20 million people, 12 percent of its population. We lost two percent of that – 400,000.

When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, we recognized the legitimate security concerns of Russia and agreed to not expand NATO toward Russia’s borders, but we have steadily and aggressively violated that agreement.
And in the 1990s, the U.S. provided key, aggressive support – including election interference – to then Russian President Boris Yeltsin as he sold off state enterprises at fire sale prices to ascending oligarchs and mafiosi while pensioners were reduced to begging in the streets.

If we want peace with Russia, NATO expansion has to stop. Imagine if Canada and Mexico were to join a military alliance with Russia. Our president would be under enormous pressure to respond, and a failure to do so might well result in impeachment.

And so it boils down to what we want. Do we want military containment of Russia, a pie-in-the-sky impossibility that serves no strategic purpose other than the gratuitous projection of U.S. power?

Or do we want peace? Talking with Russia might not produce peace, but it’s our only real shot at it.