Saturday, January 14, 2006
Legally the Non Proliferation Treaty specificly allows any nation to have commercial nuclear power but not military. Certainly if the world is ever to achieve anything like the sort of living standard we are used to the poorer countries will have to use large amounts of nuclear electricity - there just isn't enough of anything else available.
Whether Iran needs nuclear power, being a major oil producer, is a related but not entirely equivalent question & I suspect that prestige plays as big a part as economics in the decision. However there seems to be very little evidence that Iran is making bombs - indeed most of what has been found points much more clearly to material shipped from Pakistan, our ally.
If there isn't evidence then it would be us not Iran who was in breach of the treaty if we tried to prevent them having commercial reactors. In any case the link between commercial reactors & bombs is not that close - in the same way that the link between building 747s & fighter jets is not close, but also not non-existent.
According to the article
Israeli intelligence has determined that Iran has neither the enriched uranium nor the capability to produce an atomic weapon now or in the immediate future, in contrast to the hysterical claims publicized by the US pro-Israel lobbies. Mohammed El Baradei, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspected Iran for several years, has pointed out that the IAEA has found no proof that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons. He criticized Israeli and US war plans indirectly by warning that a "military solution would be completely un-productive".& while, for obvious reasons, nobody closer than "sources close to" is going to go on record on this, it has a ring of truth. In which case it is not neccessary to "solve" this problem immediately.
On the 3rd hand I have considerable sympathy for Israel here. the level of proof that we should correctly require is somewhat higher then they, who are directly threatened, need & if they decided to bomb the Iranian sites, with US encouragement or otherwise, I would find it hard to condemn them. For many years the UN had an annual ritual condemnation of Israel for doing that to Iraq to stop them developing a bomb, which now appears rather hypocritical. There is also the fact that Iran's new leader has called for the destruction of Israel, which doesn't put him remotely alongside monsters like Clinton who rather than calling for, carried out the Krajina genocide, but still makes him a credible threat.
All top Israeli officials have pronounced the end of March, 2006, as the deadline for launching a military assault on Iran. The thinking behind this date is to heighten the pressure on the US to force the sanctions issue in the Security Council. The tactic is to blackmail Washington with the "war or else" threat, into pressuring Europe (namely Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) into approving sanctions. Israel knows that its acts of war will endanger thousands of American soldiers in Iraq, and it knows that Washington (and Europe) cannot afford a third war at this timeI will be watching to see if Bush is pushing for that date.
However if the US or Israel were to do this they would be setting a precedent which would make permanent enemies of every nation that hopes someday to achieve our standard of wealth. Though the concept of many countries having commercial nuclear power is frightening the concept of preventing it & making enemies of every country that feels itself caught in poverty by the western military is worse. Fair dealing is normally more rewarding over time & always safer than mugging.