non-proliferation (re)fissions

While Iran brays against the extension of nuclear trade between the United States and India, voices elsewhere, including the United Arab Emirates have been more encouraging. UAE leaders have reasons to cheer – perhaps chief among them is the hope that proliferation of such trade suggests their own nuclear-power ambitions will be welcomed by the international community as well.

The UAE, the world’s sixth-largest oil producer, is on the horn for two nuke plants with French assistance, according to a recent Washington Post article. That fact alone, should cue you in on the future of our beloved petro-states. On their tail for nuke deals are other regional players such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, and Jordan.

The deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saeedi, said the U.S.-India agreement violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will further destabilize the region. Iran signed the treaty in 1968. India, Israel, and Pakistan — nuke bomb states one and all — have yet to agree to terms of the treaty, while former signatory North (“We’re working on it!”) Korea signed the treaty but has since withdrawn.

The U.S. State Department’s recently commissioned report headed by Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz recommends the U.S. increase its involvement in nuclear power development around the globe to better police the spread of nuclear materials and the “inevitable” weapons proliferation issues that will arise.

However, India’s energy and defense communities aren’t hanging on U.S. cooperation, writes Daryl D’Monte for India Together. Government and business interests from both Russia and France are already working deals in Delhi, including one for a Russian nuclear-powered submarine.

Says D’Monte:

The Indo-US nuclear deal removes the hurdles for other countries to sell the country nuclear power equipment. While the deal is going through the wringer in the US Congress, no such democratic obstacles stand in the way of other suppliers, notably France and Russia. Indeed, these two suppliers are already in Delhi, seeing what they can market to a huge country with rising energy needs. France, which generates 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear stations and already has technology agreements in place with India, is obviously the front-runner, but Russia is a close runner-up.

Iran isn’t the only one feeling snubbed. Fellow nuclear-weapons power, Pakistan, is rattling it deserves the same deal India is getting.

Back in the States, nuclear-power promises have played a key role in the campaign of Sen. John McCain. But with little will on a crippled Wall Street to invest in what is seen as a highly dubious proposition, funding for his 45 new reactors will largely fall to the federal government — I mean taxpayers — to the tune of a conservatively estimated $315 billion.

Obama has been more subdued on nuclear, though both he and his running mate insist they are open to all energy options, including nukes and so-called clean coal.

Perhaps everyone should take a deep breathe and study Google’s national energy plan. While the search engine giant allows nuclear power to continue providing an unchanged amount of baseload energy that will likely require a handful of new plants, a massive ramp-up of renewables is expected to displace most of our fossil fuel use by 2030 — not as fast as Veep Al is calling for, but it may be the best thing going.

[LATE ADDITION: Oh, there’s a downside to letting India skirt NPT? China’s embrace of Pakistan suggestive of what’s to come…]

[Image at top was originally published in The Economist.]

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