Monday, September 8, 2008

FRYING PAN TO FIRE, OIL TO NUCLEAR

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Bushspreadhands No matter that three out of five past presidents are unable to properly pronounce nuclear, they keep making nuclear noise, nuclear threats and (with the current president) seem hell bent upon their own unique brand of nuclear proliferation. The irony is without end; nuclear Pakistan is OK, but a nuclear ambition on the part of Iran is beyond the pale. A nuclear powered North Korea is a precursor to war, but nuclear powered India is just good sense and good business.



Kamdarmira The bomb is inseparable in the minds of Americans from the energy technology. Or perhaps not. Or, who knows? Or, it’s all just too complicated.

Mira Kamdar, of the Asia Society, writes in today’s Washington Post that we are “Risking Armageddon for Cold, Hard Cash.”

While everyone has been abuzz about Georgia, the Beijing Olympics and Sarah Palin, perhaps the most important development in the world has been unfolding with almost no attention. India and the United States, along with deep-pocketed corporations, have been steadily pushing along a lucrative and dangerous new nuclear pact, the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Both governments have been working at a fever pitch to get the pact approved by the 45-country Nuclear Suppliers Group, which governs the world's trade in nuclear materials, and before Congress for a final vote before it adjourns this month.

Cheneykurd India, huh? The last time I was abuzz, it wasn’t about Georgia, Beijing or Palin. I personally abuzzed wondering if Dick would bomb Iran on his way home from Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

As almost any neocon can tell you, Iran is a terrorist state. Actually, Iran fashions itself a sort of religious democracy, but the point is hotly debated even within Iran. It is however, a nation of 70 million, with the youngest and most pro-American population in the Muslim world. Meanwhile;

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the deal will let his country, which refuses to sign either the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, take "its rightful place among the comity of nations."

Bushsingh Singh has an interesting take on comity (an atmosphere of harmony, mutual civility and respect). Sign the treaties, Manmohan.

The historic deal will allow U.S. nuclear companies to again do business in India, something that has been barred since 1974, when New Delhi tested its first atomic bomb. (India tested nuclear bombs again in 1998, spurring Pakistan to follow suit with its own tests days later.) The pact will also lift restrictions on other countries' sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, while asking virtually nothing from India in return. All of that will undermine the very international system that India so ardently seeks to join.

Khanabdulpakistan If I have it right, that would be the system that has thus far kept no one from surprising the world with those little unexpected explosions that preface an announcement of parity. No one was turned away who could access Dr. Abdul (Strangelove) Kahn in Pakistan and pay the price. We winked at that one because we needed Pakistan and temporary need redefines dictators on a depressingly regular basis over at the State Department.

But Bush is in a fury to set off strategic imbalances in Asia before January 20th, so that the neocons can profit both politically and economically from another arms race. The administration is frantic to come in on the India side against China (while there still is an India side). Mira concurs;

The deal risks triggering a new arms race in Asia: If it passes, a miffed and unstable Pakistan will seek nuclear parity with India, and China will fume at a transparent U.S. ploy to balance Beijing's rise by building up India as a counterweight next door. The pact will gut global efforts to contain the spread of nuclear materials and encourage other countries to flout the NPT that India is now being rewarded for failing to sign. The U.S.-India deal will divert billions of dollars away from India's real development needs in sustainable agriculture, education, health care, housing, sanitation and roads. It will also distract India from developing clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and from reducing emissions from its many coal plants. Instead, the pact will focus the nation's efforts on an energy source that will, under the rosiest of projections, contribute a mere 8 percent of India's total energy needs -- and won't even do that until 2030.

Nuclearpowerplant We have, in our ultimate burst of creative reason, elected to begin replacing the planets reliance on oil as a power source. It’s getting just too damned expensive and politically sensitive now that Texas has run dry. The prevailing administration view is that, rather than developing cheap and effective alternatives to fossil fuel, the dangerous, expensive and more politically sensitive resurgence of nuclear power is the answer.

Nuclear fuel, rather than being merely expensive and dwindling, is fatal to mine, dangerous as hell to ship, horrendously expensive to store and impossible to get rid of, once used. What a breakthrough technology. Instead of tapping the earth’s molten core, developing wind or solar power, we seek to proliferate the planets most life-threatening method of boiling water.

Kurt Vonnegut was right—our big brain is trying (with great success) to kill us.

So what will the deal accomplish? It will generate billions of dollars in lucrative contracts for the corporate members of the U.S.-India Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry. The Bush administration hopes that it will help resuscitate the moribund U.S. nuclear power industry and expand the use of this "non-polluting" source of energy, one of the pillars of the Bush team's energy policy. The deal will let the real leaders of the global nuclear-power business -- France and Russia, both of which eagerly support the deal -- reap huge profits in India. And the pact will provide spectacularly profitable opportunities to India's leading corporations, which are slavering to get their hands on a share of the booty. How much booty? This newspaper estimates more than $100 billion in business over the next 20 years, as well as perhaps tens of thousands of jobs in India and the United States.

Bush’s solution is so ‘non polluting’ that we have yet to find a state or a mountain within a state, willing to serve as a repository for spent fuel in America. It is so ‘non polluting’ that we expect to offload it to the poorest countries on earth.

In any case, the nuclear deal will not magically transform India into China's economic or military equal. A shocking 42 percent of Indians live below the World Bank's new poverty threshold of $1.25 per day. Even if India managed to match China reactor for reactor and missile for missile -- a long shot at best -- Delhi could do so only at the expense of precisely the investments in human and physical infrastructure that could make India into a truly great power, prosperous and secure. This is the real tragedy of the U.S.-India nuclear deal. It's not too late to stop it.

So,

  • the politics are flawed,

  • the science is opposed,

  • the next Cold War is a likely result,

  • India will remain a beggar state,

  • China is disturbed

  • and Russia (who we claim to be mad at over Georgia) will profit.

All in favor, signify by saying ‘aye.’

The ‘ayes’ will have it, unless the clock runs out.

HOLD THE PRESSES!!! This just in from the NYTimes;

The worldwide body that regulates the sale of nuclear fuel and technology approved a landmark deal on Saturday to allow India to engage in nuclear trade for the first time in three decades, after a pressure campaign by the Bush administration and despite concerns about setting off an arms race in Asia.

Approved, apparently, while I was busy parsing a paragraph. Timing is everything.

Only one hurdle now remains for the deal: final approval by the United States Congress. But passage is likely to be difficult, considering both political opposition and dwindling time in the Congressional calendar before November’s elections.

And therein lies the hope. Congress will absolutely not touch this hot-potato until a new Congress convenes.

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