Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should Israel Trade its Nukes to Stop Iran's?

University of Haifa professor Uri Bar-Joseph has published in Foreign Affairs what seems a remarkable proposal (Never mind, for now, that the Israeli establishment will blow it off): Israel should give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for Iran's stopping its nuclear "project."  The underlying assumption, of course, is that Iran's efforts are intended to produce a nuclear weapon.  There's no hard proof of that as yet, but many (including me) wouldn't be surprised if that was indeed their intention.

But my immediate question is, what if Iran's "project" is indeed principally interested in nuclear-power generation? Just as the Saudi government, with the planet's largest oil reserves, hopes to create a huge solar-energy capacity to power its people's future, the Iranians have been claiming that they are pursuing a nuclear program in order to generate power for their own use, and in the process, like the Saudis, free up their oil for sale to developed and emerging industrialized countries. 

I assume that Bar-Joseph's proposal would not require Israel to dismantle its own nuclear facility at Dimona.  (He doesn't say one way or another.)  Would Iran be required to dismantle the reactor at Bushehr?  As James Conca (at Forbes) reminds us, whereas Israel has the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East, Iran is the only country generating nuclear power in the region.

In light of the devastation that Frankenstorm Sandy has wrought along the US and Canadian coasts, such questions are hardly inconsequential.   Several (among them Tom Engelhardt) are attributing that storm, and other unusual weather events of the last couple of years, to global warming.  One of global warming's principal causes, as we all (ought to) know, is the over-use of carbon-based fuels (oil and coal especially) across the globe.  Although the Fukushima disaster (along with the earlier catastrophe at Chernobyl) has again raised awareness of the dangers of nuclear power generation, many still look to the increased development of nuclear energy around the world as a way of pushing us off our current glide path to destroying our own planet.

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