Nuclear Power Goes Rogue Nov 28, 2011 12:00 AM EST Post-Fukushima, the market for nuclear power is changing latitudes. Here’s what’s at stake.
None of these nuclear customers, it should be noted, has a nuclear-safety regulatory system worthy of the name. Nor, outside of Pakistan, do any of them have enough trained technicians to build or operate large nuclear-power programs. More than a few—Turkey, Syria, Iran, Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia—have either toyed with or actually developed nuclear-weapons options. (And, of course, Pakistan actually has nuclear weapons.) And Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia have refused repeated American requests that they forgo making nuclear fuel—a process that can bring states within weeks of acquiring nuclear weapons. Besides Iran, Egypt, Algeria, and Syria have been caught violating International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
So what’s driving the world’s nuclear suppliers to service such nuclear pariahs?
First and foremost: cash.
The second driver is geopolitics.
The Obama administration, which heralded these conditions as a new gold standard when the U.A.E. deal was finalized, now has a different take: it wants nothing to do with this legislation. The Saudis, meanwhile, have hired the Pillsbury law firm, one of Washington’s top lobbying guns, to secure a U.S. nuclear cooperative agreement free of these conditions.
Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Arlington, Virginia, and is editor of Nuclear Power’s Global Expansion: Weighing Its Costs and Risks (2010) and The Next Arms Race (forthcoming).
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