Saturday, November 04, 2006



If you truly believe that Iran is not all that interested in nuclear power, and is only pursuing its "peaceful nuclear program" as a way of developing nuclear weapons technology, then you will probably be extremely disturbed to learn that another six Arab countries now want to nuke up as well.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Alergia and the United Arab Emirates have announced they are all planning programmes to "master nuclear technology."

A Middle East nuclear arms race?

With the diplomatic chaos and fear unleashed by Iran's pursuit of nuclear energy, how are the US, Israel, the UK and Australia going to deal with this eventuality?

And does the West have the right to pursue nuclear energy and export uranium (Australia is doing both), while denying the "green energy future" to those in the Arab states?

Of course they don't have the right. And they are going to have a very, very hard time stopping these six states from pursuing nuclear technology.

It is also likely to become a wedge issue for Israel's relationship with the United States. How can the US criticise Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, wishing to acquire nuclear energy technology, when they don't even publicly acknowledge that Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and has signed no international agreements in this regard?

The hypocrisy of how Australia, the US and the UK views is set to only become more gagging, as these six Arab countries move towards becoming fully-fledged nuclear states.

And don't expect Russia and China to back the US and the UK in the United Nations Security Council. They are both refusing to co-operate with the sanctions the US and the UK wish to impose upon Iran, and they are likely to continue using nuclear-energy seeking Arab states as a way to further criticise, humiliate and demoralise the United States on the world stage.

If the most powerful nations in the world cannot stop Iran and North Korea from gaining nuclear energy and/or nuclear weapons, how are they going to stop six Arab states?

The short answer is, they can't. And they won't.

Under international law, all six Arab states are allowed build civilian nuclear energy programs.

The West can make a lot of noise, get Israel to make a lot of threats, they can verbal sanctions and try to apply pressure, they can coax, and negotiate and offer incentives to not go nuclear, but these attempts will produce nothing in terms of decreasing the number of nuclear energy states in the world.

If they use the spin-metrics of Australia's prime minister, all six states could claim they are pursuing nuclear energy as a replacement to coal and oil burning energy production so as to do their bit in the fight against global warming.

It will be interesting to see whether in a decade or two, Australia (soon to be the world's largest exporter of uranium) will be selling nuclear fuel to, and recycling nuclear waste from, these six Arab states.

For now, Saudia Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are free to build nuclear power stations and research facilities, as long as they make all such stations and facilities open to inspections from the International Atomic Energy Association, As Iran currently does.

From the Times Online :
The move, which follows the failure by the West to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, could see a rapid spread of nuclear reactors in one of the world’s most unstable regions, stretching from the Gulf to the Levant and into North Africa.

....the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.
The six Middle East states, meanwhile, have put forward plans to use nuclear power "primarily for desalinisation purposes".
The announcement by the six nations is a stunning reversal of policy in the Arab world, which had until recently been pressing for a nuclear free Middle East, where only Israel has nuclear weapons. Egypt and other North African states can argue with some justification that they need cheap, safe energy for their expanding economies and growing populations at a time of high oil prices.

The case will be much harder for Saudi Arabia, which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves.

Also from the Times Online :
It is one of the world’s most unstable regions, where conflicts over land, ideology and religion have raged for centuries. Yet the Middle East may now be entering the most precarious era of its history, with the sudden rush by Arabs, Iranians and Turks to master nuclear technology and one day unlock the secrets to the atomic bomb.

...the headlong race into the atomic age came as a shock. For months Arab leaders have been speaking out against nuclear proliferation in the region. Most wanted a nuclear-free zone to force Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal and to discourage Iran...

It is widely accepted that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would fundamentally alter the balance of power in the region.

But even greater concern exists in Arab states. They fear the rise of Iran’s brand of Islam and the impact it is having on Shia brethren in countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. An Iran that is a member of the nuclear club would have far more clout in the region.
Egypt and Turkey are believed to be already negotiating for Russia to supply and build at least six nuclear plants. This, then, makes it extremely unlikely that Russia would rule against nations it was supplying with nuclear technology in the UN's Security Council.

As this debate grows, you will repeatedly see the argument used that with so much oil in the Middle East, and in particular in Saudi Arabia, why would they then want to spend billions on nuclear energy? This argument is often used to prove that Iran, one of the world's top four oil producers, must be pursuing nuclear energy solely for the warheads.

But Iran has said it wants to move into nuclear energy so it can sell more of its oil to China. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, could argue exactly the same.

We may be in the early days of an Arab nuclear super state, growing rich off increased oil sales to the West, locked deep into mega energy and technology deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars with Russia and China, while continuing to slowly drive the United States and its armies further and further out of the Middle East.

Israel may well claim that it could, if it wanted to, take out the Iranian nuclear energy and research facilities that they claim are being used to create nuclear weapons.

But Israel won't do it.

The United States has said it would "understand" if Israel felt they had to act pre-emptively in this way, but Russia has warned Israel there would be serious consequences if they choose to attack Russian interests in the region, which include primarliy the Iranian nuclear porgrams.

How then will Israel deal with six more nuclear Arab states?

They, literally, cannot nuke everybody.

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