Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Canadian Uranium Fueling Iran's Nuclear Program? Follow the links.

Whooee! Well, friends an’ foes, seems like a dog’s age since I done any boogin’. I been twitterin’ up a storm but I reckon I ain’t been motivated enough to typewrite more’n a hunnert an’ forty characters at a time. Until now, that is.

What got me chewin’ nails an’ fartin’ tacks this mornin’ was when I read about a spill on a shipload of Canadian uranium bound for China.

Right off, I gotta say I ain’t too keen on the cosy trade relations we got with the world’s worst human rights abuser. Sure, China’s a terrific supplier of poison dog food, lead-painted kid’s toys, prison labour produced shoes, suicide factory iPhones an’ a whole whack of other great stuff. But tradin’ our uranium for all them great consumer goodies sorta sticks in my craw.

Of course, China wouldn’t dream of using any Canadian uranium to fuel its nuclear weapons program. Right?

And, they’d never sell it on to a nuclear wannabe like Iran. Would they?

Wikileaks has let us know that Iran’s nuclear program is being aided by 30 countries. As of yet, the names of those 30 countries remains unknown. However, the leaked cables inform us that Iran’s chief problem in advancing its nuclear program is a lack of uranium. Hmmm… Canada’s got plenty. In fact, we’re the world’s second-largest supplier after Australia.

But Canada doesn’t sell nuclear technology to Iran, does it? Not directly, at least. We do sell nuclear materials and technology to a couple of Iran’s trade buddies, though: China and Kazakhstan.

And Kazakhstan, like China, would never sell to Iran. Would they?

Of course, all this worry about Canadian technology and uranium being used to further nuclear arms proliferation is just unfounded scaremongering. Right? We sold our technology to India, didn’t we? Did India use CANDU know-how to build an atomic bomb? Oh yeah, they did. But that didn’t have any serious consequences. It’s not like India’s arch enemy, Pakistan, felt pressured to become a nuclear power. Oh yeah, it did. But these countries are responsible world citizens and they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, didn't they? Oh yeah, they didn't.

That stuff’s all in the past. Who cares if India refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty? Canada decided they don’t pose any threat and signed a nuclear trade agreement with India just last summer.

Well, at least India's enemy, Pakistan, is so politically stable that their nuclear arsenal will never fall into the hands of extremists. Will it?


Filcher said...

It is always a treat to read your posts, and I tend to agree with what you say most of the time.

While opinion is that Iran is building nuclear weapons, the IAEA has failed to find any actual evidences of a weapons program, despite inspecting and monitoring the Iranian program quite extensively for the last 6 years. It is likely the objective of Iran is to have the components and technology available to build weapons in the future if the need arises, but nuclear weapons are a deterrent against attack, not an offensive weapon.

Providing nuclear material and providing nuclear assistance for civilian nuclear programs is one of the benefits of the NPT member states, of which Iran is one. As there is no evidence beyond suspicion, it may be contrary to international law to deny them this help, especially when we support other nonNPT states like India, Pakistan and Israel.

Lastly, It appears to me that Iran has very little reason to remain a member of the NPT, which would mean an end to the monitoring and inspections by the IAEA if they cancel their membership. In this case we would have hardliners saying to bomb the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, but this is an act of war against Iran, and do we really desire to fight Iran when we are trying to extricate ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think the problem with Iran is that we are marginalizing it and providing Iranian hardliners a cause, much like what we saw in the US after 9/11.

JimBobby said...

Thanks for the comment, Filcher. Actually, I've got at least as much of a problem with selling nuclear technology and material to China, India and Kazakhstan as I have with Iran. I show the links in the supply chain to illustrate just how easily nuclear material can move from Canada to Iran, despite the fact that Canada claims to be shoulder-to-shoulder with the Us in blocking Iran's nuclear ambitions (whatever they may be.)

I only agree with you up to a point with regard to nuclear weaponry being a deterrent. If the nutjobs (or bigger nutjobs) seize power in Pakistan, I won't bet against a first strike of some sort.

Also, the US and Russia have embarked on the development what they term "tactical nuclear weapons" or mini-nukes. As more fuel and technology proliferates to more countries, the risks of intentional detonations or accidental meltdowns increases.

We're seeing first hand here in Canada that nuclear is not really viable as an energy producer: too expensive, too much lead time, lack of planning for future waste disposal, lack of facilities for current waste disposal, etc. AECL has become a multi-billion dollar white elephant with no prospective bidders, even though the taxpayer is offering to keep the least attractive parts and sell off the supposedly most attractive parts. While CANDUs run on low enriched or unenriched uranium, they are essentially plutonium producers and we know what plutonium is mainly used for.

I agree we need to try to keep (or bring) Iran in the fold. The greatest danger, IMO, is Pakistan: a nuclear weaponized military dictatorship struggling with a determined and seemingly powerful extremist insurgency.

Filcher said...

As I see it, much of the problem with the regulation and trade in nuclear materials can likely be traced back to the Bush administration, which demonised the IAEA and it's inspectors in the ramp up to invade Iraq, while relaxing the restrictions on some allied nonNPT nuclear program countries without demanding the signing of the NPT, monitoring their facilities, regulating the safety of nuclear arsenals or inspecting their programs.

Pakistan is IMO a far greater threat than Iran, an extremist nation who's secret service has ties to AlQueda and the Taliban, and they do have a nuclear arsenal. Rather than create greater support for the extremist element in Pakistan, through drone attacks on civilians and cross border raids, we should be working to limit the power of the extremists. Years ago diplomats handled international problems; it seems that we live in a world where everything is a nailand the solution is a hammer.

If you continuously water down whiskey, you soon have only water in the bottle; so it is with treaties. Allowing and providing tacit support to those outside the NPT contrary to the words of the NPT itself, simply destroys the concept of the treaty. It provides a platform for Kim Il Jong and Ahmadinjhad and others the ability to cry discrimination.

Whether nuclear power is viable or not, we seem to be stuck with it, and must find ways to deal with the problems created by it.

hass said...

Iran has its own uranium mines. In fact they announced the discovery of uranium and plans to use it for their nuclear program decades ago. And before that, they bought a share in a uranium mine in Niger. FYI Iran's nuclear program started with the assistance and encouragement of the United States and Europe because it makes economic sense for Iran to be able to export oil rather than consume it at home. Don't believe the hype about nukes. That's just a convenient pretext, as was "WMDs in Iraq"

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Kelsey said...

Hi JimmyBob,

I just stumbled across your blog and think it's really great! I thought you might be interested in this organization that just started up in Canada: www.leadnow.ca Right now they are specifically working on a campaign to get people to share their stories on the website in order to build a mutual understanding and dialogue in Canada. Following this they will create a Declaration for Change highlighting issues that Canadians want politicians to move beyond party politics and work together on, and challenging politicians to do exactly that. They are also working to increase participation by new voters, particularly younger voters, and create public demand for progress on major issues.

Anyway, thought you might be interested in checking it out, sharing your story on the site, and getting others to do the same,

Thanks! Keep up the great work :)


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