Sunday, June 01, 2008

The West Proliferates Nuclear Technology in the Middle East

It looks like the West is intent on proliferating nuclear technology in the Middle East, bringing it to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and even Yemen (the poorest country in the Middle East!), all run by the regimes far more vulnerable to social unrest than Iran's.
The news of the French nuclear deal with Algeria, for instance, just about coincided with that of concern about the growth of violent protests in the country that has yet to fully recover from the civil war in the 1990s, which is said to have killed more than 150,000: William Maclean, "Algeria Riots Pose Risk of Wider Unrest," Reuters, 1 Jun 2008.

In the meantime, the West's pressures on Iran escalate: the International Atomic Energy Agency has changed its tune, probably bowing to Washington (Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, "A Giant Backward Step on Iran," Asia Times, 30 May 2008); and threats of missile strikes, by the United States or Israel or both, are made again and again. The latest comes from former Foreign Minister of Germany Joschka Fischer: Joschka Fischer, "As Things Look, Israel May Well Attack Iran Soon," Daily Star, 30 May 2008.

One of the few bright spots for Iran on the nuclear front is Moscow's continuing insistence that Iran is not making a nuclear bomb. Vladimir Putin just said so again in no uncertain terms:
I don't think the Iranians are looking to make a nuclear bomb. We have no reason to believe this. The Iranian people are very proud and independent. They are trying to implement their legal right to develop peaceful nuclear technologies.

I should say that formally Iran hasn't violated any rules. It even has the right to carry out enrichment. It only takes a quick glance at the relevant documents to confirm this. ("What Putin Said to Le Monde -- in Full," Russia Today 1 June 2008; in French, Marie Jégo, Rémy Ourdan, and Piotr Smolar"La version intégrale de l'interview de Vladimir Poutine," Le Monde, 31 May 2008)

What Putin Said to Le Monde -- in Full

Nevertheless, Moscow is not about to bend its position that Iran should settle for receiving handouts from the club of the nuclear haves:
And if they [Iran and other nations seeking to develop nuclear energy] create their own closed cycle to solve the problem, there will always be the suspicion that they could produce military grade uranium. It is difficult to control. That's why we propose carrying out the enrichment on the territory of those countries which are beyond suspicion because they already possess nuclear weapons. ("What Putin Said to Le Monde -- in Full," 1 June 2008)
Moreover, in light of Putin's firm statement that "We will use any means possible to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons" ("What Putin Said to Le Monde -- in Full," 1 June 2008), even Moscow's long-standing position begins to sound less reassuring than before.


Naj said...

This really IS, has always been about 'business'

the 'security' agenda around it is smoke screen.

Yoshie said...

Boy, there's no business like nuke business: "US, Turkey Agree on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation" (Today's Zaman, 2 June 2008)!