Nonproliferation is a disguised antinuclear energy effort
I stumbled across a 1983 article titled Nuclear power and nuclear weapons: the connection is dangerous that is the clearest piece of evidence I’ve found to prove that many of the basic talking points of the nuclear nonproliferation crowd are actually aimed at slowing, halting and reversing the use of nuclear energy.
These efforts have not just been aimed at keeping nuclear energy production facilities out of non-nuclear weapons states; as the article describes in substantial detail, the nonproliferation crowd will not really be satisfied by anything short of a gradual reduction in all nuclear technology knowledge. After all, according to the article:
The main technical barriers are a weapon’s program’s requirements for a sizable cadre of highly trained specialists and for a source of fissionable raw material plus the facilities for converting it to weapons-usable form.
A commercial nuclear power program lowers these barriers in three ways:
- Even in its formative stages, the program assembles people having the same skills needed for a weapons program and melds them into a working unit.
- A nuclear power program cannot avoid solving the problem of fissionable material, typically on a small scale at the research reactor stage that precedes commercial operations and necessarily on a large scale at the commercial stage.
- Such programs often provide directly the means for converting the raw fuel into weapons-usable material, and even if a country refrains at first from acquiring this capability, having both raw material and personnel simplifies a later decision to do so.
After a “once-over-lightly” survey of various countries and their nuclear-related efforts, the article proceeds to list six approaches that can “reduce the danger” that a few additional countries might decide to create an additional independent nuclear weapons capability. The article assumes that readers would automatically agree that there is danger in adding to the eight countries – at the time – who were acknowledged “nuclear powers” (US, UK, France, Soviet Union, and China), known to have a weapons capability outside of the Nonproliferation Treaty (India), or suspected of having clandestine nuclear weapons (Israel and South Africa).
Here is a paraphrase of the six possible approaches:
- Strengthen NPT
- Strengthen superpower security guarantees
- Upgrade NPT and international standards, including efforts such as regional enrichment and reprocessing
- Attempt to develop more proliferation resistant fuel cycles
- Unilateral US and multilateral action among suppliers to restrict technology access by withholding assistance and using sanctions where indicated
- Develop and encourage the world-wide use of all energy technologies that are not nuclear. (The article recognizes that there are some who say that using more nuclear in places that are already nuclear weapons states would free up oil and gas for developing nations. It also recognizes that even in 1983 there was a growing recognition of a potential hazard from “the global buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion.)
As soon as the article describes the approaches it continues on to the following statements about the viability and effectiveness of each one.
- None of the first five approaches is even close to being fully satisfactory. They all have costs, risks and holes. This verdict holds as much for the pollitically- as for the technologically-oriented ideas. While various combinations of these measures could be tried, the overwhelming likelihood is that even the best attainable results will not prevent some acceleration of the spread of nuclear weapons as a consequence of the spread of nuclear power. This probable contribution to proliferation must be counted a significant cost of nuclear power. Hence it is important to pursue vigorously the sixth approach — the promotion of energy alternatives to fission. This approach is not cheap or easy, but I believe its potential for diminishing further the grave hazards of weapons proliferation outweighs its costs and difficulties.
- The attraction of nuclear energy for industrial and less developed countries alike, aside from its proliferation liability, are widely overestimated.
(Emphasis in original.)
The article continues on to provide the talking points for nonproliferation practitioners to use when discouraging the use of nuclear energy.
As the author of this article clearly understands, the relative attractiveness of any energy option is a function of both the perceived benefits of one choice and the perceived risks and costs of all other choices. Advocating for non-nuclear energy choices means both support for advances in those choices and efforts to diminish, demean, and obfuscate both existing nuclear advantages and the potential for future technology improvements.
Paraphrasing, here is the slanted information about nuclear energy that the article provides. It helps convince people who are sincerely concerned about nuclear weapons that fighting nuclear power is an effective way to achieve their goals. Fear of the effect of using nuclear weapons is a legitimate concern, one that is large enough to lead people to believe it is a moral crusade whose ends justify the means.
- Nuclear is too big, too centralized, and can only deliver electricity. (All of those are false and were known to be false at the time. Since the fission chain reaction was proven in 1942, there have always been small reactors, there have always been reactors that produce heat, and there have been propulsion reactors since January 17, 1955. Besides, nearly every non fossil, non nuclear energy source is also limited to providing electricity.)
- Developing countries need small scale power sources using “portable fuel.”
- Nuclear does not replace oil since most oil is used outside of electricity generation. (By 1983, nuclear power plants had pushed most oil out of the electricity markets in the US, UK, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan. In places where nuclear plants have been shutdown, like Japan and much of the Northeast US, oil is making a comeback.)
- Nuclear is a slow, expensive, and ineffective way to prevent fighting over oil. (Disagree. When electrical power has no need to burn oil, nations have far less incentive to fight about it. Transportation consumption adjusts rapidly to variations in prices; electricity use is generally isolated from market pricing at the consumer level.)
Tapping into antinuclear weapons passion was a great strategic move by the people whose real mission was to slow the development of a formidable competitor in the lucrative enterprise of selling hydrocarbon fuels to billions of people to provide them the energy that they need or want.
I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning the article’s author up until now. Those readers whose first action in reading a blog post is to open links will already know that John P. Holdren wrote the article. Holdren is currently serving as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
Even though Holdren wrote the article discussed here more than 30 years ago, it was not a youthful indiscretion. By the time he wrote the article, he had already been leading the interdisciplinary graduate program in energy at the University of California (Berkeley) for ten years. The opinions and strategies described are mature positions that have probably done nothing but firm up over the succeeding decades.
The intention of the nuclear energy policy actions that the Obama Administration has implemented became far more clear to me after reading this article than they ever were in the past. As long-time readers know, I was once a strong supporter of the President and defended him as being in favor of nuclear energy based on his political origins in Illinois, a state that obtains about 50% of its electricity from nuclear and hosts the Argonne National Laboratory. History has proven me wrong.
I was duped by skilled politicians and propagandists in a way similar to those people who once believed that President Carter would be in favor of nuclear energy because he falsely claimed to have been a nuclear engineer in the Navy.
Note about image: After initially publishing this piece, I decided that it needed an image. I went to the recently redesigned PopAtomic where I knew there was a growing library of images just right for illustrating nuclear-themed works. Within a couple of minutes I found and downloaded just the right image. Thank you, Suzy and and team!
1. The IFR was designed to be proliferation resistant from the outset and achieved its design goals. That didn’t help. ‘Experts’ still successfully used their non-proliferation arguments against it.
2. The NPT is a joke. It was used to bring wide-scale economic sanctions against Iran although Iran does not have a bomb. Pakistan, Israel and India have nuclear bombs. Presumably, because they have NOT signed the NPT, they are immune from sanctions and China builds nuclear plants in Pakistan in violation of the NPT. If the the word hypocrisy didn’t exist we’d have to invent it just for the NPT.
Ah, the paranoia never ends!
For someone who often rails about “ad hominem” attacks, your recent comments here have been remarkably devoid of any content other than an implied attack on my personal character, intelligence, or state of mental sanity.
Rod, you read to much into Cheryl’s comment. Perhaps she thinks the idea that nuclear generation of electricity leads to nuclear weapons is paranoid. If so I second her.
I had not thought of interpreting her remark that way. Perhaps you are correct. It would be great to have to withdraw my comment and admit that it was misguided.
Yes, Ron, it was misguided.
My criticisms are of your arguments, not of your person.
The argument that One Big Conspiracy is behind all criticism of civilian nuclear power is paranoid. The argument, used in your post, that something can be interpreted along the lines of the One Big Conspiracy and therefore is evidence of that One Big Conspiracy is circular reasoning, correctly called begging the question, although that phrase is badly used these days.
I have no idea why you make those arguments and have said nothing about your state of mind. It could be that you lack training in logical argumentation. It could be that you are in the pay of Big Nuclear, or many other reasons. I don’t know any of those things, just what you write on the page.
Thanks, Charles, for pointing out to Rod that one’s first thought might be wrong. I think that a single-minded expectation that nuclear generation of electricity inevitably leads to nuclear weapons might be paranoid. However, that’s not what I see in Holdren’s paper or in most concerns about nuclear proliferation.
Actually, I was trained in logic, debate and the use of the English language. As you frequently remind me, I am not a scientist. As an undergraduate I studied English literature and wrote analytical papers about the subtle, and sometimes no so subtle, messages contained in works of literature including Gulliver’s Travels, Catch-22, and Good As Gold.
You may see my line of argument as being about “One Big Conspiracy,” but what I am trying to point out is that there is no need for conspiracy when so many rich and powerful people share similar interests. By completely independent analysis it is possible for people who want to sell more hydrocarbons to recognize that they will make less money, sell less product, and have less political influence if there is a viable competitive power source with measurably superior qualities in several different areas. (For example, energy density, cost per unit heat, emissions per unit heat, solid waste per unit heat, and location of resources all favor actinides over hydrocarbons.)
I’m not sure that arguments can be paranoid. The definitions of that word seem to be specifically limited to the state of mind of the person making the argument.
I think you need to go back to your textbooks. Check out “begging the question.”
Another hole in your argument: to prove that Holdren is speaking solely out of a desire to sell more hydrocarbons, you would have to prove that. Not that his argument is similar to theirs. Which you have also failed to prove, but I’ll skip that for now.
If indeed the arguments converge, there could be other reasons. The facts could support them(!) Or, if their facts are wrong, you would be wise to show that. You have done a bit of that in the post, but that is not your primary argument, which you have just stated succinctly.
Yea you cant really make an incredibly vague statement then pounce upon the subsequent interpretations as contributing to other arguments Cheryl. That doesn’t work, in so many ways .
Circular Reasoning is not necessary a defining factor of conspiracy theory or Conspiracism (a newer concept) although it is frequently a element. A newer, more general descriptive term that applies better and perhaps more often is “Unfalsifiability.”
I really enjoyed college philosophy and logic, took far too much, forgot nearly all of it only to realize I actually did desperately need it later.
Rod the title is probably terrible. But as titles go I guess its to be expected. I dont know how that works and I know how you hate passive voice (?? I wish I understood that better too.) Anyway, off the bat there are two big argumentative paths going on simultaneously here. One is reasonable/logical and one is narrative.
So, when a conspiracy of motive is a clear narrative being, quite grossly, regurgitated on you, you really cant go backwards and claim its a “conspiracy theory.” That doesn’t work either.
Rod and Cheryl, I do not argue that there was an anti-nuclear conspiracy during the 1970’s and later. I have, however, studied the energy politics of Amory Lovins, from 1970 to 2010, and identified a consistent pattern of advocacy for the interest of fossil fuels, in connection with his anti-nuclear advocacy. Early in his career, Lovings was perhaps an unpaid and tacit lobbyist for coal. He was made aware of the problem by Alvin Weinberg, but believed that Coal would go away on its own by 2020.
We don’t know why Lovins did this, but we can observe that he is a prosperous businessman and part of his business has involves anti-nuclear, pro-fpssil fuel lobbying,
In all my years of nuclear experience, I did not think of nuclear non-proliferation in this way. After reading your article, I wondered why I didn’t notice it before! Absolutely brilliant stuff, Rod…and critically important.
Is it paranoia if they really ARE after you?
Paranoia, Schmaranoia; I, for one, wish someone would develop a really good Spallation technique Neutron generator, suitable for generating PU239 from U238 that was good enough to render the whole: “Oh No! proliferation!” argument moot.
A laser-based Uranium isotope separation method would be even more “disruptive” of the nonproliferation effort as a U-235 bomb is much easier to build than a Pu-239 bomb.
It know what to don’t say about this. As if ANY administration is to be trusted? A republican administration would conduct themselves differently? There are many reasons to distrust Obama. But the main reason to dislike and distrust his leadership is because he has maintained many of the despicable practices of his predecessor, particularly in respect to our machinations in the middle east, government secrecy, and executive privilege. In many ways, he is Bush on steroids. The message differs, the actions do not.
And on proliferation? The only good nuke is our nuke. Unless of course you’re Israel, their nukes are sugar too. Definitely, as it applies to Iran, considering that there IS NO nuclear weapons program, non-proliferation is just a BS excuse to hold the Iranians down, mainly at the behest of the Israelis.
I guess what amazes me about this is that Rod was ever an admirer of Obama. He never did anything to earn that admiration. It was obvious from the get-go that he was a media construct. On the heels of the Bush Administration’s deceptions, crimes and abuses, they simply created a candidate on the logic of simple common sense. The told us what we wanted to hear, and handed us another puppet. Did anyone really think the strings were going to be handled any differently?
Perhaps I wanted to believe that Obama was as liberal and as interested in solving problems like education, illogical wealth distribution, and international aggression as it seemed during his initial campaign. I knew a little more about McCain’s bombastic nature than most voters, so it was a relatively easy choice in 2008. On the second try, it was more a matter of the lesser of two evils.
A lesser of two evils is still an evil. Personally I think it is simply the same evil, packaged differently. I think that issues such as our energy policies are about to become kinda irrelevant. This country of ours is in deep sh*t. The kind of ineptitude and fanaticism that launched the Iraq imbroglio is indicative of a deep and disturbing lack of integrity within the highest levels of our governing body. It isn’t a partisan malaise. It has infected the entire structure. It doesn’t bode well for our future standing within the global community, or our own welfare as passengers on this sinking ship.
I don’t think you can separate our energy policies from the deep kimchi our country is in. We have been driven in our particular direction by a thirst for money, especially the relatively easy money that came in enormous volume from extracting oil in geographically easy formations often located in set-up dictatorships. To use Kissinger’s word, our “interests” (meaning the interests of his Establishment buddies) were in protecting access to that easy oil so that it could be extracted and sold in ever increasing volumes to a public that appreciated the convenience it provided and were willing to pay ever increasing shares of their income to purchase it.
Energy from atomic nuclei threatened to upset this profitable, 100 year-old gravy train of wealth generation so the response was to begin a game designed to scare people about radiation and, a few years later, the possibility of nearly immediate incineration from concentrated forces in weapons.
The thing about nuclear energy that scared the bejezus out of the increasingly powerful Establishment was the fact that actinide energy density enables a guy with a knapsack to carry as much energy on his back as an oil supertanker can carry in its holds. The Establishment was also worried about the implications on American hegemony from the idea that a single plane can pack as much explosive power as a whole flight of B-29’s carrying incendiary devices.
What good was all of our financial and manufacturing prowess if such power could devolve into the hands of people who might be just as moral, but were not interested in being forced to adhere to actions that furthered US “interests?”
Mr. Adams wrote:
“Energy from atomic nuclei threatened to upset this profitable, 100 year-old gravy train of wealth generation”
It’s simple. The goal of the firm is to make money.
It seems natural that they should use every tool in their arsenal to prevent the loss of market share. This is simply good business.
I used to live in the Pacific Northwest. Heat was mostly through electricity. Natural gas was trying to break in. I heard ads that natural gas heat was unsafe. Having grown up with natural gas heat, I heard these ads and said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” It was good business to stop this interloper.
Nuclear power is still the interloper in the energy business.
To think business would seek barriers to competitive entry to some folks is “paranoia”.
Nuclear proliferation is desirable but insufficient; it is necessary also to have proliferation of ICBMs.
The old farts who would think nothing of sending millions of young people to fight and die for them are directly in the crosshairs, and they’re so scared they wet themselves at the mere thought. It’s not out of kindness that we haven’t had world war III. It’s not because we’ve grown wiser. Not even Stalin or Mao; some of the worst mass murderers in human history, had any interest in actually using them when they got them.
No country goes through the expense of getting nuclear weapons on a lark. They get them because they need them, like Iran. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, they’re insane.
The rule of law is an illusion. Human rights, rules against torture etc. only apply to small resource rich countries; and they only apply when the rogue states like the US, Russia and China say they do. Laws are a nothing more than a club to beat of the head of the powerless.
If the laws created to try the fascists after WWII applied to US presidents every damned presidence since Truman would have been tried and hanged.
“The rule of law is an illusion.”
Not if you believe in a higher power.
If a higher power could be proven beyond any doubt you still wouldn’t even have gotten out of the starting gate. You would then have to prove that such a higher knows that on one speck of dust, in a vast ocean of utterly inhospitableness, almost instantly lethal to any multicellular organism, there is a thin covering of self-replicating things. Then you would have to show that said higher power not only knows, but cares to limit human suffering rather than being a major cause of it (see the abrahamic religions, particularly the old testament, for a god with all the charm of a five year old setting fire to ants with a magnifying glass).
Yeh, It ain’t logical is it? Just Kind of miraculous. I concede.
Hmm. Whence comes your moral indignation that sadistic acts to living creatures would be a despicable way for a god to behave?
Fortunately, God is not like that. I experience him to be the best and wisest Father I could possibly imagine. Something like Jesus Christ.
And I know, with the benefit of hindsight, that suffering has its place. Loving God, I find that much suffering is removed, and other suffering starts working together for good.
“If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, they’re insane”
I agree 100%. It may well be that should Iran acquire a nuclear weapons capability, it is the factor that could provide a safety net AGAINST the prospect of nuclear weapons being used in a middle eastern conflict. With Israel as a neighbor, Iranians should demand their government seek equal weapons capability. MAD works.
However, I have seen no credible offerings by the chicken hawks or their Israeli script writers that is convincing evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Eh, it seems rather “MAD worked once.” Please Google “Able Archer”. The Guardian’s account is brief and readable. CIA’s insanitized analysis provides worthwhile depth. Then ask whether MAD is truly an experiment humanity wishes to repeat.
It worked twice. And it is a mute point to bring up instances. Knowing human nature, I would hazard to say that it has worked since more than one nation has had the capability. Remember, the only time they have been used is when retaliation was not a possiblity.
And, I don’t really understand your comment. Are you saying MAD is a thing of the past?
The probability exists that it won’t work and is substantial enough such that it *must* fail eventually.
“The probability exists that it won’t work……”
Huh? Its worked for over a half a century. You can’t possibly believe that facing an enemy that does not possess a nuclear weapons capability is a deterrence against using your own nukes?
Anarchy is alive and well. Unfortunately as soon as the powerless gain power, they begin to use it to oppress any one who disagree with them. Is Iraq better off than it was under Saddam Hussein?
We could be so lucky to have some churn at the top 1%, but without the manslaughter of course.
So I am wondering why there is not more recent publications attributable to this guy as he is/has been a Harvard “professor”, fellow, co director and whatever and is assumably required by these organizations to maintain a published body of work? Also there are a few things in his earlier work and some repeated and referenced in other works up into the 90s and beyond regarding population that are major MAJOR red flags.
Yikes. Rod you didnt even touch the “conspiracy theory” potential here. Did you?
Trying to prevent the rest of the world to develop a certain technology, to be safe from their weapons, is a losing battle. It requires total control over the others, requires spying, military interventions, and tons of money. It’s not going to be affordable in the long term. There used to be an export ban for high performance computers in the 80ies and early 90ies. Today virtually all of the components are made abroad and imported into the US, rendering the export ban a sad joke. Nuclear technology will be just the same.
The trick is… It’s not a losing proposition for *everyone*. There are some powerful winners in all of this mess.
Jerry, do you work for a US foreign policy advisory organization? You have the active script since 2000 down pat; and the passive script since the ’50s covered too. if so, did you guys forget to tell them about the part where we’d go broke trying?
Those who would believe her nuclear program isAs for the other, th no cause for concern might browse WNA’s page on Iran.
Today, counting Italy and Denmark, some 36 countries participate in commercial LWR nuclear power. They collectively account for some 82% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Apart from Australia at 1.19%, none of the remaining non-nuclear countries emits more than 1% of total global CO2. Clearly, Gen III+ nuclear can still go a huge distance toward solving the warming problem with no further territorial expansion. Of course, the remaining 18% comprises an inordinate share of projected demand growth and mustn’t be ignored. One hopes the Russian, Chinese, and Indian Gen IV programs will be well ready for export by the time they really begin to ramp up, and that hydro will help until then.
Proliferation shouldn’t be an issue. NPT actually does work. With international safeguards and monitoring current LWR’s can be safely exported and operated. Each and every country does not need to fabricate and reprocess their own fuel just because Iran says they do. .
Each and every country does not need to fabricate and reprocess their own fuel just because Iran says they do.
That is not exactly Iran’s position. Iran believes it needs an independent fuel supply. It bases that assessment on a realistic evaluation of its own history of being subjected to repeated sanctions programs and international interference in its domestic political situation. The US and UK engineered a coup in 1953, much of the international community took Saddam Hussein’s side in the Iran-Iraq War, and it has been under an oppressive sanctions regime for the past dozen or more years.
As far as I can tell, most of the animosity in the US for Iran dates back to the embarrassment of having our embassy staff taken hostage for 444 days before being released, all in generally good health.
Compared to the way that our Saudi allies have treated us over the same period of time, and the lives that have been lost in places like Khobar Towers, that was a relatively inconsequential event.
Another often neglected potential source of the animosity is the long-standing rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia for quotas and pricing decisions in petroleum export markets. Sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have done wonders for Saudi wealth accumulation, and they have been pretty generous about sharing that wealth with American politicians and our military industrial complex.
From the WNA page to which you linked:
Just imagine the difference in income to Saudi Arabia over the past 40 years if that construction program had been completed and if Iran had been able to free up the equivalent in oil and gas for export.
Also from the WNA page, Iran produced 67 terrawatt hours by burning oil in 2011. That is equivalent to almost 120 million barrels of oil. (A good rule of thumb is that it takes 600,000 barrels of oil to create a terrawatt hour of heat. Another useful thumbrule is that a typical electricity production plant has a thermal efficiency of 33%.)
Thanks for reading the article, Rod. I am all in favor of Iran’s peaceful civilian nuclear power program.
Atom bombs — not so much.
Those interested might re-read the final sections on “Non-proliferation” and the “November 2013 Geneva Agreement”. Politics and needlessly bombastic rhetoric aside, there appears to have been very legitimate cause for concern. And now cause for cautious optimism. One hopes it continues.
Actually, if one is truly interested in the truth about what fuels this propaganda laden crap about Iran’s “nuclear weapons program”, I suggest you read Gareth Porter’s new book.
Its interesting seeing a discussion about the demonization of Iran that has comments devoid of the mention of Israel. The truth is, such a discussion that doesn’t include Israel is a pointless collection of meaningless prattle.
The same rabid maniacs that gave us “Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction” are largely responsible for all this bluster about the “iranian threat”. Bolton, Feith….too many to name. It is no coincidence that many of them, such as Feith, have dual citizenship with Israel.
“Iran believes it needs an independent fuel supply. It bases that assessment on a realistic evaluation of its own history of being subjected to repeated sanctions programs and international interference in its domestic political situation.”
That description reminds me of South Africa in the 1970’s to early 1990’s — and they built six A-Bombs during that time, as I recall.
“That description reminds me of South Africa in the 1970′s to early 1990′s”
Iran develops nuclear weapons, and the capability to deliver them. (Overnight, of course, if the scriptwriters are to be believed).
So what? Then what? They nuke Israel, guaranteeing their own incineration? They nuke us, to the same end?
Tell me, whose actions of the last few decades telegraph the kind of disregard for humanity that they are willing to invade, strafe, bomb, mettle, mess with, blockade, starve and demoralize the civilian populations of nations they deem improperly governed, or populated by people with the wrong heritage, skin tone, or religion?
“So what? Then what? They nuke Israel, guaranteeing their own incineration?”
Maybe so. I suggest you do a web search on “Mahdaviat” and Iranian “Twelvers”. They embrace an apocalyptic religious vision that would actually WELCOME such devastation as hastening the return of the “Mahdi”.
“They embrace an apocalyptic religious vision that would actually WELCOME such devastation as hastening the return of the “Mahdi”.
Hmm….sounds very similar to what the evangelists espouse. Better keep them away from our nukes, eh?
The vast majority of Iranians are “Twelvers” — I think that when Rick Armknecht erroneously referred to Twelvers he actually meant to refer to the Hojjatieh Society, which is a bona fide lunatic messianic death cult. They were so dangerous that they were actually banned under Khomeini (but they maintained a heavy clandestine presence in the regime, and were legalized again shortly after his death).
The Ahmadinejad presidency was especially frightening because the supreme leader of Hojjatieh (weirdly enough he was called Yazid — a name you wouldn’t expect ANY Shi’a to have) was also Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor.
@ Rick Armknecht:
“Mahdaviat” and Iranian “Twelvers”. They embrace an apocalyptic religious vision that would actually WELCOME such devastation as hastening the return of the “Mahdi”.
Tomorrow the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will become 75 years old. You don’t get that old if you don’t want to live.
Thanks, George Carty, I had never heard of the Hojjatieh Society before and I will gladly defer to you on this.
There is a difference between being simply suicidal and having a cosmological view where your death can bring about a “greater good”. A 15 year old who takes her life because of cyber bullying is not in the same class as a Kamikaze pilot. While George Carty can probably add or correct to what I say on this, there is a more universal application of Game Theory (whether Mutually Assured Destruction or any other “game”) that is worth consideration: Do not assume that your opponent thinks like you. For example, Japan attacked America in 1941 because Japan assumed that it could not take over the Dutch East Indies without triggering war with America. Why? Because that is what JAPAN would have done if IT had been in America’s shoes. Clearly, though, as Americans with knowledge of American politics in 1941, we understand that Roosevelt would not have had the political capital to declare war on Japan for “liberating” Indonesia from the Dutch.
@ George Carty
OK, I will defer to you on that.
Not everyone who gives up their life does so because they “don’t want to live”
A 15 year old who takes her life because of cyber bullying is very different from a Kamikaze pilot.
MAD is an application of Game Theory, and a common mistake in game strategy is to assume that the other players’ goals are identical to yours.
Looks like I should be more patient when something doesn’t post right away.
Please do. The comment feature has some rather tight — and slightly mysterious — settings to limit the amount of spam. It puts questionable comments into moderation, so there is sometimes a delay. I try to review the moderation folder every few hours, but occasionally get busy or even sleep now and again.
“Yadayadayada….. no cause for concern might browse WNA’s page on Iran”
Interesting that such a “report” is laden with so many hypotheticals., insinuations, and unsubstantiated conjecture.
Tell me, Ed, exactly what terms of the NPT is Iran in violation of? And how do you feel about the clandestine manner in which Israel acquired its nuclear arsenal?
Additionally, do you recognize the danger posed to a region when there is not weapons parity between two antagonistic neighbors? Before you answer that question, I hope you will bear in mind that Israel has a history of using white phosphorous and cluster munitions on non-combatant populations.
When Iraq attacked Iran with chemical weapons, the Iranian military was ordered by the Iranian leadership to refrain from retaliating with like weapons, due to religious tenets. Supposedly, nuclear weaponry goes against these same tenets. A shame that we do not share the same kind of morality in regards to our making of war, eh. By the way, you might wanna research how Iraq came to acquire the chems they used against Iran. That leering monster Dick Cheney will have alot to explain if he ever stands before those ‘ol Pearly Gates.
Giving weapons, money, and training to non-state actors to do your dirty work, like Hamas, AQI, Hezbollah, et. does not make one moral. War is hardly a moral endeavour in the first place, but Iran in no way makes it moreso.
I very much doubt that a genocidal anti-Shi’a terrorist group like AQI (or the “Islamic State” as it now styles itself) would get any support from Iran…
“I very much doubt that a genocidal anti-Shi’a terrorist group like AQI (or the “Islamic State” as it now styles itself) would get any support from Iran”
Gee….careful, you’re gonna ruin the ‘ ol “they all look alike” argument.
One cannot ignore our own, and Israel’s, actions and policies contributing to the birth and growth of entities such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
This argument that “They do that so its all right for us to do this” is straight out of the play book for those that seek to ignore our own less than admirable contributions to the list of inhumane and evil machinations.Certainly, we are not the ones to be pointing accusatory fingers when it comes to using terrorists and tyrants to “do our dirty work”.
The exact terms of the NPT that Iran was in violation of were that it disclose all nuclear fuel facilities to IAEA and fully cooperate with IAEA inspections. I trust that charade has ended and we can all move on.
I am fully aware of how Israel acquired its alleged bomb. Two wrongs do not make a right. And if Security Council votes (over U.S. dead veto) to force Israel make similar disclosure, fine. This isn’t horseshoes and hand grenades.
I have far less faith in the power of “religious tenets” than you appear to, and hold no fear Dick Cheney will ever stand before St. Peter.
“I am fully aware of how Israel acquired its alleged bomb”
When you know something to be a fact, and use the term “alleged” to describe that fact, you are being purposely disingenuous. Its unfortunate when one uses such tactics in a discussion, for it calls into question the integrity of their entire argument. But congratulations, you have the accepted hasbara line down pat. Its just a pity the one you used is so widely known as pure unadulterated BS.
“And if Security Council votes (over U.S. dead veto) to force Israel make similar disclosure….”
Don’t be ridiculous. Israel is already in violation of over 60 UN mandates. The UN doesn’t “force” Israel to do anything. The only time Israel gives a damn about UN resolutions is when someone ELSE is violating them, and it suits their agenda to do some sniveling, usually followed by dumping a few hundred thousand pounds of ordinance on a bunch of non-combatants.
“I have far less faith in the power of “religious tenets” than you appear to”
Oh gee. Don’t take me wrong. I have very little faith in religious piety, dogma, and professed morality. Surely one cannot observe the absolute disconnect between the religious right’s high regard for the sanctity of life, while they condone, support, and participate in the justifications our leaders offer for our murder of countless hundreds of thousands of Muslim men women and children.
And can you really have it both ways? Demonizing the Iranian leadership as radical religious zealots, while denying the validity of fatwahs issued by their religious leaders? Convenient, that.
Israel never signed the NPT. Being in “violation” of a treaty that you never signed really doesn’t amount to much. Yawn.
It would appear to me that the nuclear weapons powers are the ones who are violating the treaty and who have reinterpreted the clear language to mean something completely different. The deal offered in the NPT to non weapons powers was that they would have essentially unfettered access to the peaceful uses of atomic energy, with promises of assistance, not hinderances from those nations that had already developed useful machinery to produce reliable energy from fission. Here is the text of provision number 3 of article III.
Article IV is a clearly stated carrot promising the freedom to develop peaceful uses under safeguards that does not assume that any particular technology proves the existence of a weapons program or the intent to develop a weapons program.
In return for permanently forswearing efforts to develop nuclear weapons, which everyone agreed were devices that no one wanted to see USED again, the nuclear weapons powers would begin efforts to disarm themselves – Article VI.
It has been forty-five years since this treaty was signed. Looking at this from the point of view of a non-nuclear weapons power, do you see any good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to disarmament or “on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”?
“Israel never signed the NPT”
And where do I claim that Israel signed the NPT? Or that they are in violation of the NPT? But thanks for making my point for me; that Israel acquired its nuclear arsenal by doing EXACTLY what we are accusing Iran of doing.
Are you going to create a strawman rebuttal here, Brian? Have at it, cowboy. I’ll rip you a new one.
No. Iran ratified the treaty.
Um … the Article III NPT safeguards obligations? Haven’t you been paying attention?
“Based on all information currently available to the Agency [IAEA], it is clear that Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material and its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material has been processed and stored. In his June and August 2003 reports to the Board of Governors (GOV/2003/40 and GOV/2003/63), the Director General identified a number of instances of such failures and the corrective actions that were being, or needed to be, taken with respect thereto by Iran.”
Even President Obama knows this:
“That includes accountability for those that break the rules — otherwise the NPT is just words on a page. That’s why the United States and Russia are part of a coalition of nations insisting that the Islamic Republic of Iran face consequences, because they have continually failed to meet their obligations. We are working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran. And we will not tolerate actions that flout the NPT, risk an arms race in a vital region, and threaten the credibility of the international community and our collective security.”
(White House Blog)
It is worth noting that the violations of the safeguards provisions occurred more than a decade ago. There have been more recent evaluations that showed no indications that the program continued after 2003.
It is also worth noting the circumstances that led Iran to the decision to begin a covert weapons research effort. They were in a war in which the might of the US and other members of the Security Council was slanted towards their enemy. Iran complained about Iraq’s use of chemical weapons to deaf ears. They had no reason to believe that the international community would protect them, so they determined that independent action was their only course of action.
In my opinion, it is trite to rely on the cliche that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” If I am ever involved in a fight where the opposition breaks the rules and plays dirty, I would rely more on self-preservation than on a strict adherence to polite rules of combat. I can understand if others make that same choice.
That’s fine. Just don’t complain when others say that you play dirty and break the rules, because they’re right and that’s what you’re doing. They have every reason not to trust you.
Justify it however you want; just don’t be a hypocrite about it. I don’t care how many other hypocrites you point to. They’re irrelevant if we’re discussing your record.
With all due respect, I do not agree that other hypocrites are “irrelevant” when the specific hypocrites accusing me of playing dirty are exactly the hypocrites that played even more dirty in the first place.
Moving away from analogies, I will be as clear as I can be about my own behavior. I work hard to treat others well, even if they have never given me any benefits. I default to assuming that people are good and worthy of respect.
If, however, someone or some group violates my trust or harms me through nefarious action, I have no compunction at all about retaliating against the people who have perpetrated that harm with all of the forces at my disposal, including creativity.
That does not change how I continue to behave and treat all others and does not change my personal moral code to follow rules as long as the people with whom I am dealing have either treated me fairly or never had anything to do with me. That state of conflict does not have to last forever; I am a pretty forgiving person. The conflict will not end, however, unless the perpetrator admits error and apologizes.
Claiming that the action against Iran has been taken by “the United Nations” is a bit of a misstatement. It has been taken by the UN Security Council, a small subset of the United Nations with rules that allow it to be dominated by the US and its dependents.
Brian, just call me dense, but could you please clarify your 8:31 comment? Try as I might, I can’t seem to decipher it. I’ve read it a few times, and it keeps coming across as gibberish.
“Iran complained about Iraq’s use of chemical weapons to deaf ears”
Thats an important facet of any conversation about Iran’s understandable reluctance to cinch any kind of deal about its nuclear ENERGY program. If some carpenter in central california knows that it is the USA that greased the skids for Saddam to acquire chemical weaponry, are we to assume Iran is unaware of that fact?
What forms the basis of trust that would allow Iran to confidently enter into an agreement? Considering the blatant mis-translations of Iranian speeches, offered by MEMRI, in which words are put in the mouths of Iranian leaders that were never spoken, coupled with our complete disregard for actual terms of the NPT…..
And what country has Iran invaded or bombed in the last half a century? Can’t think of any?? Gee, a shame Israel or the US can’t say the same, eh? So who REALLY poses a “threat” with their nuclear weapons capabilities? Who really has demonstrated a willingness to use so-called WMDs?
If I was an Iranian, I would expect my government to seek the capability to protect my country from military aggression. Particularly after watching a neighbor dump white phosphorous and cluster munitions on civilian urban centers, and realizing this neighbor’s most loyal ally stood mutely by while Iraq was gassing my countrymen. With gas, I might add, that was provided by the good ‘ol U S of A.
Any reasonably honest observer of recent history can recognize that one “axis of evil” country was invaded and subjected to a lengthy period of regime change while another “axis of evil” country that happened to have proven its ownership of nuclear weapons capability was essentially left alone and only subjected to a demonization campaign.
It seems a bit strange that US will go to the mat to slow an assumed Iranian nuclear weapons program when the real danger that the world needs to avoid is the use of anyone’s nuclear weapons.
POA – Translation: Don’t give me any of this BS about nonproliferation being a “disguised antinuclear energy effort,” when even you admit that the purpose of Iran’s enrichment program is to build a nuclear weapon and that you’re fine with that.
Clear enough for ya?
Rod – Now that we both agree that the UN is pretty much worthless, let me say that you’ve misunderstood my point.
It’s hypocritical for you to claim that Iran’s enrichment program is part of some sort of domestic energy program. It’s not. It’s a weapons program and has been for some time now. Let’s call a spade a spade.
Now if you’re fine with that, then OK. I disagree strongly, because I think it’s barking mad to allow these people to have a nuclear weapon, but I respect your opinion. My problem is when you get off into funny space about how Iran has the right to enrich its own uranium for it’s power reactors, when we all know why they’re really enriching uranium.
Why do you discount the very real possibility that Iran plans to use its enrichment capability for nuclear power as well as using it for any other purposes that can be imagined?
It is not “funny space” for a country that has such a long history as an energy supplier to recognize the value of nuclear energy. It is also not “funny space” for a country that has long used its energy strength to influence its neighbors and to enhance its stature as a nation to recognize that having the ability to turn uranium ore into fuel for proven reactors is a valuable skill to master.
In any gathering of a reasonable number of randomly selected people, there are always people who are either at least as smart as I am or even smarter. If I can think of a dozen or more reasons why a country would want to be able to separate isotopes, I am sure that a nation of 70 million persons has hundreds to thousands of people who can add to that list on their own.
It is a disingenuous argument sourced from the Establishment people that I rail against to believe that the only possible reason to want to separate uranium isotopes is to supply a weapons program. It reveals something about the source when it is associated with an argument like “Why would a country with so much oil and gas want an independent nuclear power capability?”
Rod – I discount it for the very simple reason that it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t care less if Iran claimed that it would use the technology to feed starving orphans or to make their turds smell like jellybeans. If it is used to develop a nuclear weapon that Iran can and most likely will use against its enemies, either directly or by proxy (e.g., the missiles currently being launched into Israel), then these sideshows are irrelevant.
It’s like giving a hand grenade to a child. Does it really matter if the child says that he’d like to use it as a really nifty paperweight? No! You’d still be giving a hand grenade to a child, which is something that you shouldn’t do.
Sorry, but I consider this a serious matter, and I prefer not to count on the “possibility” of good intentions on the part of the Iranian government. Its history provides nothing to inspire confidence in such possibilities.
Its history provides nothing to inspire confidence in such possibilities.
Can you provide a quick summary of what you see in the history of the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan that inspires any confidence in their peaceful intentions?
“Can you provide a quick summary of what you see in the history of the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan that inspires any confidence in their peaceful intentions?”
Forget it, Rod. He has suffered an overdose of kool-aid. No matter what argument you offer, he will rebut, by rote, a Fox News narrative. Any real political debate, using facts, is impossible with anyone so afflicted.
Rod – Well, I can say that none of those countries (correct me if I’m wrong) is calling for the destruction — that is, not just the defeat, but the complete annihilation — of another sovereign state. The leaders of Iran seem to do that on a regular basis.
But anyhow, what difference does it make? None of those countries are trying to acquire nuclear weapons. They already have them. That boat has sailed. What’s done is done.
What is Russia today used to be “The Evil Empire,” and China’s human-rights record is abysmal. None of that, however, is a logical argument for why Iran should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
If I were in favor of some other non-nuclear state acquiring nuclear weapons, then you might have had a point. But once again, your harping on the irrelevant.
Unfortunately, I can only speak and read one language well enough to read between the lines and understand implied threats. If you were a well-educated Iranian, how would you interpret the phrase “keeping all options on the table” when it is spoken by the leader of a nation that has thousands of nuclear weapons, has never stated that it won’t use them first, and has made it abundantly clear that it wants you to overthrow your own government?
I’ve often heard people who should know better use the phrase “turn the place into a glass parking lot” in reference to Iran.
We are not discussing a situation where some other non-nuclear weapons state is expressing any interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. We are discussing a situation where the established nuclear weapons powers are doing everything short of an armed attack, including the imposition of sanctions that are deeply harming real people inside Iran, in order to stop Iran from acquiring industrial capabilities and skills useful in producing what we both seem to agree is the cleanest, most reliable, and potentially most cost effective energy source available.
Despite all propaganda to the contrary, centrifuge isotope separation is NOT a strictly weapons-related technology. It is extremely useful and important for anyone who desires an independent nuclear energy capability.
Over its history, Iran has often had quite friendly relationships with Israel.
As you know, I have deep suspicions about motives when there is a great deal of money involved. After the discovery of large off-shore gas resources, Israel has gained a substantial profit motive for limiting Iran’s activity in the world energy market. Since Iran has a very large natural gas resource base and wants to use nuclear energy to produce domestic electricity to free up more gas and oil for export, Iran’s nuclear energy program is a threat to Israel’s future plans to develop fields like the Leviathan.
“The leaders of Iran seem to do that on a regular basis”
Really?? How about some dates, names, and direct quotes, Brian?
I won’t hold my breath, for obvious reasons.
It has been going on for a long time. For example, that basket case Ahmadinejad was notorious for shooting off his mouth about destroying Israel. I’m not going to waste time providing you with details. You can find all of the dates, quotes, and links on Wikipedia, if you’re so desperate for information. This is common knowledge for anyone not in serious denial.
“I’m not going to waste time providing you with details”
Because you can’t. Funny, you were willing to “waste your time” counting my comments. But you can’t “waste your time” backing up your BS with some facts. You have offered ONE example, vaguely.
I don’t need to go to wickipedia. I don’t argue if I’m not sure of my argument. And if someone proves me wrong, I admit it. Unlike you.
So, Brian, you going to substantiate your robotic whirrings, or not? Lets see all those quotes, dates, names. After all, you’re the one that made the assertion they existed. Back it up with something other than bluster.
Not everything is an oil-funded conspiracy, Rod. Sometimes people want to blow other people up simply because of hate. Germany didn’t need the lure of oil resources to herd almost all of Eastern Europe’s Jewish population into concentration camps and kill them. Why would any reasonable person think that Iran’s leaders need some sort of secret, ulterior motive for similar objectives?
The world would be a better place is the Iranian people would overthrow its government. That’s my opinion. Perhaps you disagree.
It’s also the opinion of the Persians that I know, and they do speak Farsi and follow the politics of their homeland quite closely.
POA – I don’t “waste my time” counting your comments. That job done by a 42-line computer program (including blank lines) that I wrote in less than half an hour.
FWIW, your latest count is 104, or about 40% of Rod’s contribution to the comments here. If Rod is making money on his blog, perhaps you should ask for a cut, of say 5%, for your efforts. 😉
“Why would any reasonable person think that Iran’s leaders need some sort of secret, ulterior motive for similar objectives?”
So, other than blanket statements that are based on your own hatred, you have nothing substantial with which to buttress your argument. No history, no past actions, no invasions. No use of WMDs. NOTHING. Except bluster.
Reminds of that BS the neo-cons fed us…”they hate us because of our freedoms”. You back your sputter up with nothingness, Brian. You’ve been fed a narrative that you simply regurgitate.
And you are credible talking about FUD? Credible about nuclear energy, but a complete and utter mouthpiece of right wing/neocon/zionist BS?? Gee, how convincing.
“The world would be a better place is the Iranian people would overthrow its government.”
What a narcissistic comment that is.
Frankly, I doubt you know any persians. And if you do, they aren’t the ones directly affected by our sanctions, our CIA ops putting agents in Iranian society fomenting unrest, and our generally meddling in the internal affairs of THEIR sovereign nation.
To clarify, we ARE talking about a government which began its tenure by invading the embassy of the United States and holding some of its diplomatic personnel as hostages for well over a year. Both of these are recognized acts of war.
The US had years of opportunity to halt Khomeini in his tracks. A bullet, a knife or some poison while he was fomenting the Iranian revolution from France would have collapsed the movement as much as the loss of Pim Fortuyn collapsed the opposition to mass immigration in Holland. We didn’t do that. We allowed the Shah to be overthrown, and gave him an “out” instead of forcing him to fight. They owe us that much.
As embarrassing as the hostage situation was for the United States and the Carter Administration, it ended up as a relatively harmless event with no major injuries and no fatalities among the hostages. Of course, we lost eight servicemen (five Air Force, three Marines) in a botched, poorly-resourced, and inadequately-planned attempt to rescue the hostages.
There is some dispute about whether or not the people that invaded the Embassy were students or agents of the government, but for argument’s sake, I’ll accept the statement that they were members of the new government.
Sure, the event was technically an act of war, but so are sanctions and blockades. Use of cruise missiles or drones also count, as does enforcing a “no-fly” zone.
That hostage crisis took place while I was in college, and I am now a semi-retired grandfather.
It would seem to me that Iranians have a far better reason for holding a grudge for the 1953 actions of Kermit Roosevelt and his CIA buddies than we do for holding onto a grudge related to the hostage crisis.
Brian Mays – Iranian-Americans are mostly people who held a privileged position in Iran under the Shah, and they hate the Islamic Republic for pretty much the exact same reason that the Miami Cubans hate Castro.
And I disagree with your claim that the Nazi Judeocide was an act of senseless barbarism motivated solely by hate. The motivation was probably that the Jews were an almost entirely urban population, and the Nazis had a strong anti-urban bias (like that of the Khmer Rouge, or in a more benign form that of Thomas Jefferson). Heinrich Himmler said that “cowards are born in towns, heroes in the country”.
And the Judeocide was only phase one of a far larger genocide, planned to claim the lives of over 50 million people (mostly Slavs) in order to clear Eastern Europe for German settlement. The Nazis knew that the self-sufficient agrarian way of life which they idealized would only be possible in a state with a far lower population density than German in 1933. Fortunately, this plan was never fully carried out thanks to the Red Army, but the deaths by starvation of millions of Leningraders and Soviet POWs demonstrate the Nazi intentions clearly.
Antisemitism didn’t cause the Holocaust, antisemitism combined with Malthusianism did. And it isn’t reasonable to argue that Muslims (however much they they regard the state of Israel as illegitimate) are into Nazi-style genocidal ethnic nationalism. Note that Hamas liken their Zionist enemies to a “Nazi-Tatar invasion” in their charter – they wouldn’t have done this if they saw the Nazis as heroes!
The White House blogsite is simply pumping crap at you. Note the failure to actually specify how Iran has “broken the rules”, or “failed to meet its obligations”.
For someone so concerned about FUD, you sure seem to be a bit selective in your criticism of propaganda.
“Golly, after all its on the White House blogsite, so it must be the gospel”
“As long-time readers know, I was once a strong supporter of the President and defended him as being in favor of nuclear energy based on his political origins in Illinois, a state that obtains about 50% of its electricity from nuclear and hosts the Argonne National Laboratory. History has proven me wrong.”
I told you so in 2008. And I oppose Barack Hussein Obama for many more reasons than just his position and policies on nuclear energy.
I believe that it is possible that Obama believes that he favors nuclear electricity generation, but is too ignorant to realize that the advice he is receiving is all anti-nuclear.
What should happen at this juncture, is that the NEI should go to a fund raiser, pay whatever the current rate is a for a few minutes of personal time and state, “Mr President, you’ve repeatedly stated that you favor more nuclear energy, but all of your actions to date have opposed it. Either you’re lying (be more tactful here) or one or more of your advisors is working against you intentions. No, don’t say anything now. If you want to talk more about this, here’s my card.”
I’d do it myself if I were wealthy enough to buy face time at a fund raiser.
Hey I remember you back from “EfT” of Kirk S’s old days…
. . . However poor Kirk is not at all Collaborative, and his “Flibe” I.P. partner Kirk Dorius has split, moving from Alabama back to Austin !(**)
If you’d like to “fight back” to help Counter our County’s self-destruction (by *Entrenched* Interests), please take a look at this and subsequent links
If you’re interested, feel Free to comment there, or to look up my info on my G+ “about” tab.
**(I also have moved on, but with several other Chem. Scientists having started an RnD Start-Up to do the Molten-sal. NG Chemistry that’s outlined in ¶ #3 of
That anti-proliferation arguments are used to oppose nuclear power hardly seems debatable. That is obvious to anyone. This usually takes the form of exaggeration and/or outright falsehood along the lines of ‘if they want to build a nuclear power plant, it must be to obtain a nuclear weapon, and the plant can easily be used for that.’ The first is a political question. For the second, the fact that the route to a nuclear weapon is either uranium enrichment, or a special-purpose built reactor (to obtain Pu 239) is ignored.
For example, a UCS representative, when asked about nuclear electricity to fight climate change, “You can’t fight global warming with nuclear winter.” A statement which is both wrong on so many levels, yet gives a perfect representation of what UCS is really all about — using nonsensical non-proliferation arguments in a context which makes no sense whatsoever, but sounds really pithy.
We really need to develop a set of biting slogans.
A bit off-topic:
I’m sure Rod has seen this piece on yesvy, regarding the absurdity (and ugliness) surrounding the issue of radiation at the plant boundary of VY (bottom line … The State concluded that VY measurements were correct, not the State’s own).
At the bottom of the article were some bullets, the first two:
• Was anybody protected from harm by these repeated measurements of the very small amounts of radiation? No.
• Was a great deal of money spent on these measurements? Yes.
When I read the second I had to laugh and think about the infamous ‘Bob’ Apple(baum?). That would not constitute a problem in his book, I’m sure.
I heard Holdren speak a few years before he took his current post in the Obama administration, and his message was distinctly different from that expressed in 1983. I don’t think one could call him a whole-hearted supporter of nuclear energy, but his more recent message is that global warming is a much more important issue than the use of nuclear power, and if nuclear power can help reduce CO2 emissions, it’s worth retaining as an option. (Note that Holdren was originally trained as a fusion physicist. You really should not assume that his opinions have “probably done nothing but firm up” without actually trying to find out.)
Beyond that fact, I think it’s unfair to (apparently) paint everyone who works on non-proliferation issues with the same broad brush. The American Nuclear Society has a non-proliferation technical group, and there is an institute at Texas A&M–run by nuclear engineers. The fact that the anti-nukes have used non-proliferation as a basis to oppose nuclear power does not mean that some of the concerns are not legitimate. The basic difference may be that the anti-nukes believe there is no way to deal successfully with the threat of proliferation, while pro-nukes believe there is and are willing to work toward that goal.
As for Obama, I think you misread the cards. There was no reason to expect him to be pro-nuclear power, given–for example–the position he expressed on Yucca Mountain during his initial presidential campaign, and I doubt that Holdren had a major influence on his feelings in that regard. However, it is worth noting that Obama has continued to fund nuclear energy R&D at DOE (and elsewhere), as opposed to the last Democrat to hold his office (recall that Clinton cut the DOE NE R&D budget essentially to zero for awhile), so while he may not be an active supporter of nuclear energy, he has not been an “activist” on the other side of the coin. In fact, judging by his rather directionless performance in any of a number of other areas, his ambivalent policy on nuclear power seems pretty consistent with his overall behavior.
Yup spends $8B on carbon capture R&D and $100M on advanced nuclear all of it on a possible 2030 implementation of an HTGR that China has under construction for 2017. Lets not mention the $tens of billions he spends on wind/solar.
He is also transferring American Gen IV tech to the Chinese, apparently unaware that they need these reactors to power their next generation of nuke subs.
By refusing to entertain the real science espoused by 98% of all with power system science creds that advanced nuclear is an extremely likely path to an AGW victory, like Clinton before him, Obama is the worst sort of AGW Denier.
Several of the most pronuclear people I know have considered Yucca Mountain to be a dumb idea for many years. Ted Rockwell and yours truly have been writing about the wasteful aspects of that program for many years. I only started reluctant support once I realized that getting the facility licensed would be beneficial, even if we never transported any major quantities of used nuclear fuel there and only used it for the recycling residues.
Also, I have often thought that many people trained as fusion, high energy, or theoretical physicists shade towards the antinuclear end of the spectrum of opinion. Many of the most often quoted antinuclear activists fall into that category – Ed Lyman (UCS), Arjun Makhijani (IEER), Gregory Jaczko, and Thomas Cochran (NRDC) all have physics PhDs. Over the years, a huge portion of the DOE nuclear energy budget has been captured by fusion programs that have nothing to do with generating energy. That money could have been beneficially used to improve light water reactor technology or to fund useful cycles like molten salt breeders, light water breeders, and high temperature gas cooled demonstrations.
If you understand fission technology and its orders-of-magnitude advantages over combustion, why bother to study fusion? Of course, it might be that some people just like esoteric research that has no practical applications to make life better for humans.
This argument touches on my last guest post here, “On Plutonium, Nuclear War, and Nuclear Peace,” so I may have something to say on the topic.
I voted for Obama; I don’t think he’s as bad as advertised or as good as advertised, and I only hoped, but did not really expect, that he would be better on nuclear issues than all of his predecessors going back to Lyndon Johnson, the last President before nuclear power become controversial. I certainly didn’t expect to be Dwight Eisenhower on nuclear power issues. If one reviews the history of the US Presidents, one will learn that many are reluctant truly to lead, and all of them to some extent are followers, even Lincoln.
Some of those who seek to lead are defeated by the mere attempt – I just finished a biography of John Quincy Adams who fits this category very well; but certainly there are others. Others succeed at leading, but lead us into disaster: Bush II is an example. James K. Polk is an example.
Those who truly lead and also succeed are rare: We reserve these as our greatest Presidents – although even these needed to tack and triangulate – men like Lincoln, the two Roosevelts, Washington. (I would add U.S. Grant to the list of successful leaders, but history has given him a raw deal in terms of reputation; I may be eccentric, but I regard him as the second greatest President of the 20th century.)
Obama is more follower than leader. That’s unfortunate, I think, because we really need leadership, but won’t get, because we all in the internet age expect followers, not leaders. The worst part about a democracy is that one often gets what one deserves.
It is difficult to say how history will judge Obama. I doubt he’ll be recorded as great, but I suspect he will not be adjudged a disaster either.
His nuclear policies have not been good enough, but it is true that during his administration, the first new nuclear project in a long time started.
I voted for Obama because of social issues, particularly the subject of the distribution of wealth. He hasn’t succeeded very well there either, but I’m not sure that another person in the Presidency would have succeeded better; in fact many candidates then and now are avowedly working to make things worse. In any case, no President is a magical being, and every President ends up being disappointing to those who believed in him. I trust that Obama really wishes to do something about economic justice, but he is not strong enough to accomplish what he desires. He would not be the first person on earth to fail to achieve his goals; nor will he prove to be the last.
I didn’t expect him to be wise on nuclear issues, because our country isn’t wise. This said, my party, the Democratic Party, is terrible on nuclear issues, on this issue they actually manage to be worse than the Republicans, and the Republicans aren’t very good since they have oil in their brains. We have too many insufferable asses in our party, maybe not as many as there are in the Republican party, but on the most important environmental issue of our time, nuclear energy, we’re bringing up the rear. I have come to the conclusion that I will sit out elections where we offer candidates of the ilk of say, Ed Markey.
In the nuclear case, it is the job of those who understand nuclear energy to lead the general public and in fact, even the scientific community. My opinion is that in the latter case, ideas are definitely changing toward nuclear energy; but maybe not fast enough to make a difference for the future of humanity.
As for John Holdren, in particular, I can’t say I know enough about him to comment definitively, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be held to the opinions I held in 1983. since all of my ideas about energy in general, and nuclear energy in particular, have changed since then. I note that even my nuclear ideas are in flux as they should be as I learn more and more. If you asked my five years ago what kind of reactors I thought should be built, I would have given a very different answer than I would today.
But let’s look at his 1983 opinions, to quote from the piece:
“A commercial nuclear power program lowers these barriers in three ways:
Even in its formative stages, the program assembles people having the same skills needed for a weapons program and melds them into a working unit.
A nuclear power program cannot avoid solving the problem of fissionable material, typically on a small scale at the research reactor stage that precedes commercial operations and necessarily on a large scale at the commercial stage.
Such programs often provide directly the means for converting the raw fuel into weapons-usable material, and even if a country refrains at first from acquiring this capability, having both raw material and personnel simplifies a later decision to do so.”
The first statement about skills is true. However any good scientific chemistry, or engineering group will also increase the capability to produce nuclear weapons, inasmuch with a modicum of scientific training, one can easily figure these technologies out.
For example, the construction of a plutonium based nuclear weapon involves a knowledge of the phase diagram of plutonium. One can easily look this up; in fact, one can look up the phase diagrams of many plutonium alloys, binary and ternary alloys. This does not imply, however that we should avoid training people in metallurgy or in the physical chemistry associated with crystal structure.
The second statement is also true, but in a redundant way. The “problem” of fissionable material has always been present since the earth contains a vast amount of uranium-235, always has, always will. As I pointed out in my piece here, there is no human technology that can make all of the uranium-235 on earth not exist. However a nuclear power program can be used to make it more difficult to isolate pure uranium-235, as I also pointed out.
The third statement is true limited cases. It is true that a U-235 enrichment technology can be utilized to make U-235 bombs, but it is also true that my changing the isotopic vectors of uranium by adding unnatural isotopes – available only via nuclear power programs – can make it more difficult to utilize this technology.
The chemistry of the very beautiful element plutonium is now well understood and is available pretty much in lots of places if one looks. If one knows this chemistry one can both be more capable at making nuclear weapons or at making nuclear weapons more difficult to make.
The point is that one cannot learn anything about any subject without increasing one’s capacity to do good or to do evil. There are though, I think, no cases in which being more ignorant or more incapable helps rather than hinders one’s ability to do good.
I don’t suspect that Holden is venal or dishonest; I very much doubt that. He is clearly an intelligent guy, and, one would hope, intelligent enough to know that many of his own ideas can and will be wrong; hopefully I qualify in this area as well.
Irrespective of who Holden is or is not, we clearly need to train nuclear scientists and engineers in particular, and scientists and engineers in general. I’m not sure that the country at large understand that though: We are descending into a nation of trivializing bean counters lacking any kind of vision. That’s our own fault, and not the fault of anyone else.
For Grant, I mean the second greatest of the 19th century, of course. Typo.
We are descending into a nation of trivializing bean counters lacking any kind of vision. That’s our own fault, and not the fault of anyone else.
Sad but so true.
If you’d like to “fight back” and begin countering our county’s self-destruction (by Entrenched Interests), please study
If you’re interested, feel Free to comment there, or to look up my info on my G+ About page!
Well put. Divining what Obama (or any U.S. president) thinks on any subject can be difficult, in so far as they can accomplish nothing unless Wall Street (more precisely, finance capital) agrees with it to a large degree. Who buys Congress? And even when it comes to regulatory matters, outside the direct purview of Congress, the well-known revolving door of employment for members of the government bureaucracy constrains their behavior.
One can look at a scorecard of Obama’s performance on nuclear power and find a curious collection of pluses and minuses. What is now of note is the effort of the GAO to tell the EPA to raise their allowable radiation exposures in the event of a dirty bomb attack (and the like) by 350x, to accord with modern scientific understanding. (I may have this somewhat wrong, but it is ballpark.)
This looks to me like the camel’s nose under the tent. Once the ridicule of “no safe dose” and “linear non-threshold” is established, it should spread to other applications, including nuclear waste sites and commercial nuclear power. And once it is the interest of Rosatom, Areva, Kepco and other providers of nuclear reactors to the world market to push for an end to LNT, it may be defeated rather quickly.
Right now, it seems as if the Russians utilize Japanese radiophobia to sell them natural gas; the South Koreans are not inclined to help their Japanese competitors re-acquire cheaper electricity; nor are the Chinese. I suspect we are in a situation where even many ostensibly pro-nuclear entities are aiding and abetting the Japanese hysteria. (Such as the South Koreans making a huge fuss about their fisheries.)
So, why is the Obama Administration seemingly making a move against radiophobia now? Could it be that finance capital knows that the “shale gas gale” is in reality a “fail”, and that the “100 years of natural gas” is a lie? Credible observers document how Wall Street blew up the bubble of shale gas and the gas glut in the USA. Cheap shale gas has been a big part of the stock market bubble we are now in.
Who knows this better than the bubble blowers? Cheap energy enables economic growth and profits. Cheap oil is past tense. Cheap shale gas is coming to an end soon, with the decline rates so high, and the glut resulting in gas being sold much below the cost of production, that drilling is slowing way, way down. US gas prices are going to soar in a few years.
As veteran geologist Art Berman states, shale gas is not a revolution, but a retirement party. Wall Street knows this too. So, where is the cheap energy to come from if not oil or gas? There is only one possibility, nuclear energy.
Even the oil companies may jump on board this bandwagon, as their capital expenditures for oil exploration are reportedly way, way down, in so far as they are simply not finding cheap oil. It is wasted money to look for it. It is possible that putting their vast capital to work in nuclear power would be money better spent.
They are not coal capitalists. All of this could result in “Obama” (or even Hillary) becoming much more “pro-nuclear” than they have in the past. The personality and personal views of the President is quite secondary to what monopoly capital, especially finance capital, wants.
Could it be that the first oil company that “jumps ship” wins?
Well stated and balanced. Thank you for your observations on this issue. A few years ago I listened to the podcast where you talked about the valuable materials found in slightly used nuclear fuel. I would love to see that talk in writing where it would be easy to reference with a link.
For my part, I am in favor of Nuclear weapons – putting me in the minority on this issue. They provide one of the best deterrence to World Wars of any weapon we have created. I had a grandfather in WW I and a grandfather in WW II. I don’t want a son or grandson in WW III. The spread of these weapons only comes when a particular nation feels it’s life is threatened long enough and seriously enough to justify the enormous expense. Because the decision to build an atomic bomb is a threat response rather than normal weapons of war, the NPT is really moot. The enormous cost of building and maintaining them is a deterrent all by itself.
I have been greatly relieved though to find that essentially Nuclear power plants cannot contribute to easy weapons manufacture – which would attract terrorists. In fact, the presence of pure U233 is the only hesitation I have with LFTR’s. The danger of diverting U233 to a uranium bomb can be mitigated but it is a potential hazard.
There has been at least one paper published by a reputable scholar which argues that the proliferation of nuclear weapons has reduced the amount of warfare that the world would otherwise have seen. Since we don’t have a “control Earth” to compare to, it is difficult to be certain.
Given how casually and for such spurious reasons, leaders will plunge a nation into war, I think that the argument carries a lot of weight. I’m still trying to figure out why Bush wanted to throw away 4000 lives, 2 trillion dollars, and the arms and legs of tens of thousands of young people.
I’ve heard the daddy-issue ego argument, but surely it can’t be that. I guess it was a huge profit center for Blackwater and Haliburton and given the history of Brown and Root (e.g. STNP could not be built until they were kicked off the construction) I’m willing to believe anything about Haliburton….
“I’m still trying to figure out why Bush wanted to throw away 4000 lives, 2 trillion dollars, and the arms and legs of tens of thousands of young people.”
Seriously? You believe that was Bush’s objective in Iraq? Good luck on your quest, then.
You seem to be willing to believe anything except the motives that were directly and openly stated and that persuaded both the Congress of the USA and the UN as well as 30 other nations.
If the war in Iraq was really about Oil and Haliburton it was a very stupid war. We got no increase in the amount of oil in the world. We sure failed to take over the country in a proper way – using a military tribunal to rule the country while we pumped the wells dry and left the country raped and alone. Boy it was really about oil for sure.
It is amazing to me how people will twist motives and slander a person because they want so desperately to believe the worst. President Bush fought in Iraq for the reasons he stated. At the same time, as he asked for the investigative powers and suspensions of rights in the patriot act, I knew that these powers would be abused in the future. I could see that he was making openings that would haunt us later. I also did not have confidence in the nation building since we – as a nation – no longer had the taste for sustained military presence and the long term subjugation of a people that it would take to transform a nation like Iraq into a true republic. You need a generation to accomplish this. Bush’s confidence in democracy in and of itself, without deep cultural change, was totally misplaced.
If the war in Iraq was really about Oil and Haliburton it was a very stupid war. We got no increase in the amount of oil in the world. We sure failed to take over the country in a proper way – using a military tribunal to rule the country while we pumped the wells dry and left the country raped and alone. Boy it was really about oil for sure.
I never thought that the war was about oil in the way that you are thinking about it.
In my view, the real motives for the war — no matter what Bush said or thought they were — was to increase the power and wealth of people who were already quite wealthy and powerful. IMO Bush was little more than a figurehead or lightning rod. His experience level in national or international decision-making was almost as light as Obama’s. He was no George H. W.
We did not increase the supply of oil, but the period from 2003-2014 has sure been a great time to own oil resources that were allowed to be delivered to the market. It has also been a great time to be a part of the military-industrial complex. The feared drop in US DOD expenditures as a result of the falling of the Berlin Wall, the strengthening of the EU, and the reunification of Germany certainly did not come to pass. In fact, the official budgets have been increasing rather steadily with augmentation from the almost uncontrolled supplementaries. (I spent 2001-2010 as a budget requirements officer in three different offices on the Navy staff in Washington. I watched, learned and resisted as much as I could, but I was “just a commander.”)
I was paying careful attention at the time war was declared in Iraq. The UN inspection team was close to completing their investigation and publishing their report. There was no imminent danger that required invading Iraq immediately. Yet, Bush and his pals rushed the was declaration through, just moments before (in political terms) the UN report could be released stating that there were no WMDs in Iraq.
Bush and his pals or handler clearly wanted that war, and the drum beat of WMDs was nothing but a patina of rationalization. Or to put it another way, it was a flat out lie, and you can easily tell it was by the way they took every action necessary to avoid facing the truth and to avoid the public widely being told the truth, before they could get their war.
The war constrained oil supplies, as Rod wrote and that was their goal.
The USA oligarchs’ goals these days are all about creating artificial scarcity and constraining supplies. This makes what they already hold more valuable, and in other cases raises commodity prices which leads to more volatile markets. Volatile markets are profitable markets for the banksters.
Never mind what it does the consumer, the current (last 20 years or so) “leadership” in the US is doing everything possible to create artificial scarcity and put road blocks in front of prosperity. It makes the oligarchs richer by creating opportunities for them to earn “investment” income.
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my discussion with Rod as much as I did having it.
I don’t write on the internet as much as I used to do – occassionally I write some ascerbic remarks on the Energy Collective – but I’ve written quite a bit in the past about precious metals (and other fun products) available from used nuclear fuel. Many of those posts are still available, I think.
If you search using Google, “NNadir” and “Palladium” or “Rhodium” or maybe even “Ruthenium” you will come across some of them.
My 3 kopeks on this disparate parts of this discussion:
1. I oppose nuclear weapons. The should all be turned into nuclear fuel for reactors and be done with it.
2. NNadir is correct…Presidents are mostly followers. The last ‘leader’ in any thing really was JFK through one can argue Reagan was as well but narrowly on foreign policy.
3. Iran. I would challenge Brian Mays to argue that he’d be fine with Iran doing what it’s doing if it had NOT signed the NPT. You know, my mother knows, everyone knows the NPT doesn’t make a damn bit of difference with regard to how the “Great Powers” (meaning the US and the EU) behave toward nuclear, it’s 100% politics and the NPT is a tool in these politics.
4. The fact that the West (broadly speaking) is so incredibly blind to Israel’s acquiring the bomb, with France having BROKEN NPT statues for them to get it, that Iran is 100% correct in arguing that the issue of Israel’s nukes be included in talks (and yet Iran is talking anyway!). They hypocracy here is amazing!
5. If *I were Iran* I would be rolling out nuclear WMD based on point 4. above. Iran has zero reason to trust the United States (why are we involved in a country half way around the world anyway????). No nuclear country with weaponized deliverable nukes has ever been attacked. *I do not blame them* if they are trying to get nukes (though there is little of anything to prove they are now trying).
6. Iran has had to ‘hide’ their nuclear infrastructure do to repeated open statements from Israel and the US about taking out their nuclear facilities. Iran is not dumb…they *should* try to hide them from the two countries in the world most likely to violate their sovereignty. GOOD.
7. Lastly, Rod is correct about Iranian energy sovereignty. Rightfully they don’t trust anyone. The US builds into it’s 123 agreements, for example, total control over all aspects of a country’ nuclear infrastructure that receives US nuclear tech. It has used sanctions and embargoes regularly against regimes it has *stated* it wants to overthrow. They need to develop a full fuel cycle to preserve this sovereignty against people the US state dept argues ought to supply Iran with nuclear fuel. Who would be DUMB enough to believe the U.S. wouldn’t try to cut off those supplies in some future dust up with Iran over, say, Iran’s meddling in Lebanon? Anyone?
Its refreshing to read someone, like Walters, who is able to recognize and describe the obvious simplicity of a situation.
It ain’t rocket science, is it, David?
And I would challenge you, David, not to put words in my mouth.
Iran always has the option of withdrawing from the treaty, as North Korea did. Then it could be treated like North Korea — as a geopolitical pariah.
Instead, they hang on to the treaty and claim that they’re in compliance, when they’ve been caught red-handed in violation of its terms. They’ve been told by the UN to stop their enrichment program, but have refused. Now, they are merely using the NPT as an excuse to stall for enough time until they enrich enough uranium to a point where they can construct a weapon with short-term notice. (When you have 20 wt% U-235, you’re more than 90% of the way to a bomb.)
The sad thing is that some people stubbornly refuse to see what a farce this all is.
But speaking of farces:
“1. I oppose nuclear weapons.”
“5. If *I were Iran* I would be rolling out nuclear WMD … *I do not blame them* if they are trying to get nukes”
“They hypocracy [sic] here is amazing!”
I’d say that the hypocrisy is stunning.
Brian, or anyone else with the technical background to answer.
A technical clarification. I thought that a 20% enrichment was often used for some types of reactors. I was also under the impression that a 90% or better enrichment is needed for a weapons grade uranium.
Are you saying that once uranium has been enriched to 20% that the work it takes to do the next 75% enrichment is not that difficult? Or are you saying that it is possible to make a bomb using much lower enrichment than 90%?
Yes, it’s said that if you are able to enrich to 20%, it’s very easy to enrich to 90%.
I’m not completely convinced it’s as true as said. Claiming that makes it very easy to forbid anybody to use 20% enriched uranium, which could a very useful tool in some situations especially for non-electric use of nuclear, and completely follows the logic of using nonproliferation as nuclear deterrent.
Iran has a very complete web site trying to explain why it needs all of what it has currently developed http://nuclearenergy.ir/motives/ . This doesn’t mean that they don’t also have ulterior motives, but it gives plausible grounds for the whole of their nuclear program.
I understand that the higher enrichments allow power reactors to do several things, such as very long core life and load following since there is a great deal of excess reactivity.
But I did not realize that the work to get to 20% enrichment was 90% of the work to get to 90% + enrichment. As I think about this – moving from .75 % to 3% (4 times the original) means removing a great deal of U238 and leaving the U235. Moving up in percentages takes less removal of U238 as the percentage increases. If I am understanding doubling the percentage takes the same amount of energy regardless of the starting point. So that you have only 2 or 3 more doubles from 20%.
Am I understanding this correctly?
You are correct in your understanding of the way that enrichment “effort” works.
There are many technically sound reasons to use materials with higher concentrations of fissile material than is common with LEU-based light water reactors. You mentioned a couple, here are more.
Highly enriched cores can be much smaller and support much more compact power sources.
Cores that have portions of the core with higher fissile concentrations are often useful breeders.
Higher fissile concentrations are better targets for isotope production because of the lower probability of absorption of valuable neutrons.
Think needles and haystacks.
If a stack of needles and hay is 99.93% hay, it’s a lot tougher to get a pure stack of needles than, say if the haystack-needle pile is already up to 20% needles….
I think if you have a haystack-needle pile that is 20% needles, you are then far beyond 90% done with the task of gathering enough needles to become a world class prick.
It is my understanding that natural uranium is about 99.28% U 238 and the remaining .72% is U 235. I hate to nitpick because you made a good analogy. I wonder if anybody has done a cost analysis of enriching U 235 to different percentages. You might set a goal of having 80% of the original U 235 in the enriched product. A higher percentage is more expensive and a lower percentage is more wasteful.
The World Nuclear Association has an excellent page on uranium enrichment that provides all of the equations and graphs required to answer your question.
I did not put word in your mouth, I asked you to state your position on Iran if Iran wasn’t in the NPT. You failed to do so, Brian.
What I’m saying is that I’m for world wide unilateral disarmament. But in the context of the world today, it’s sort of stupid for Iran not to have nukes. My positions still hold.
The UN actually doesn’t have the ‘right’ to tell people what to do in terms of their energy policy. Iran is caught between the NPT and clear attempts by the West to sabotage their programs, and openly calling for their destruction *without a word by the UN* who sits on it’s hands allowing the West to make these threats. OK, hypocrisy runs both ways. I’m for Iran complying with the NPT, but the NPT can only work if powerful countries with histories of massive intervention into the affairs of others would shut the hell up. but they don’t, so Iran is forced to develop it’s civilian nuclear enrichment program in the dark.
France helped Israel in the 1950’s. It didn’t accede to the NPT until 1992. The NPT didn’t even exist until 1968. You can’t break the statues of a treaty that doesn’t yet exist.
It’s hard to have a reasonable debate on a topic such as this when people are so stubbornly, willfully ignorant of history … and current events:
Yes … goodness knows … nobody is firing rockets into Israel, are they?
Brian, the point is that NONE of this has anything to do with the NPT. The NPT is simply a cudgel against developing nuclear powers to tell them what to do. BTW…I sort of misstated something…France, TODAY, can’t break the NPT since it actually doesn’t apply to the original bomb builders: USA, Canada, UK, France and Russia. They can do what they want, build what they want with nary a word by anyone.
Yes, I was wrong about NPT dates. Sorry. However, what was the policy in the 1950s vis-a-vis export of nuclear materials? There were several treaties, including some then-secret ones, that prohibited the export of nuclear WMD tech. The fact is that France secretly supplied the needed research reactors on the basis of supporting Israel getting a bomb. France (and no doubt the Eisenhower and JFK admins were aware of all this though I don’t have any evidence for it) simply became a western proliferator. As this was done in secret, I doubt the NPT could of, or would, stopped it. In the same way the Chinese developed their bomb with Russian help. Seriously, while I defend the right of Iran to get itself some defensive nukes, generally I’m not for this. I just think it’s stooopid to cry about Iran when Israel has nukes and everyone knows it. A serious program to prevent Iran from getting nukes would include Israel in mutual disarmament. Until then talk about ‘destroying’ Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and enrichment program is *irrational* unless it is done on a regional basis.
Rod, I think your interpretation of the NPT is correct. If the hypothesis that there is an effort underway by certain elites to create a supranational authority at the expense of national sovereignty, it would be helpful to contain nuclear weapons as well as allow an indigenous nuclear power industry beyond those nations already in “the club.”
This is why the CFR pushed the “Soft Energy Path” back in 1976. The only argument in favor of nuclear power that the CFR allows is to justify it’s climate change meme which itself is used as another justification for supranational authority.
The question is why would corporations such as General Electric continue to underwrite the CFR and other similae organizations.They must have concluded that they are a net benefit and perhaps once control is established, nuclear power will be allowed again.
The question is why would corporations such as General Electric continue to underwrite the CFR and other similae organizations.
You ask that question as if you think that GE is interested in nuclear energy development. That may have been true 40 years ago, but the GE of today has a relatively tiny division that services nuclear power plants and supplies fuel and maintains a joint technology development effort with Hitachi. (GE’s nuclear efforts bring in roughly $2 billion per year and are “relatively tiny” within the context of a $160 billion per year corporation.)
In contrast, GE has several large groups involved in supplying tools and services to the natural gas industry, along with another large group that sells combustion gas turbines, and one that sells wind mills. All told, I would guess that GE receives roughly $40 – $80 billion per year (which is a complete SWAG) in sales of technology that competes with nuclear energy.
One more thing – you realize, of course, that the CFR has been intimately tied to the multinational petroleum and petroleum finance industry since its inception? It was, after all, a brainchild of a petroleum baron and one of the world’s most powerful investment bankers.
Yes, the CFR is located in the Harold Pratt House. Harold Pratt was an executive for Standard Oil (Exxon).
The CFR pushes renewables knowing they will be unable to provide more than a fraction of our energy needs. Fossil fuels, being the fastest to deploy will be the default source of electricity after nuclear has been killed off/
I have never been a fan of the Big Science approach, especially the one embodied by our Department of “Energy.” Since its inception, it has spent an almost unbelievable amount of money to produce almost no energy at all that could compete with established coal, oil and natural gas. In fact, one of its few successful, energy-producing endeavors was a public-private partnership to develop hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technology.
I would like to see nuclear weapons eliminated, and like Rod, I support Iran’s right to have its own enrichment and fuel fabrication facilities.
Boeing, GM, GE, Ford John Deer and many other businesses have manufacturing facilities all over the world. Iran can own fuel production facilities in multiple neutral countries that insure open and full UN inspection of their products, not in secret underground facilities.
Iran must agree to allow the UN to verify that those fuel assembly’s go into commercial power reactors where they are exposed to high burnup.
Yes, what I said above about the time/effort is true. The key figure to consider is SWU (separative work units). When I work on advanced concepts for nuclear fuel, I tend to think of SWU as the monetary cost of enrichment (i.e., when you double the SWU, you double the amount charged by the enrichment plant). In this case, however, it’s also important to think of SWU as the amount of time required to enrich uranium to a certain amount, because the important factor is how quickly a country can produce bomb material.
If starting from the same feedstock — say, natural uranium — then SWU is easy enough to understand. It takes about twice the effort to enrich to 40 wt% U-235 as it does to enrich to 20 wt% U-235 to produce the same amount of enriched material.
When the enrichments of the feedstock differ, however, these calculations become counterintuitive. The example that I briefly mentioned is that enriching a feedstock that is 20 wt% U-235 to weapons grade (i.e., 90 wt% U-235) requires only 10% of the effort that it takes to enrich natural uranium to weapons grade to produce the same amount of weapons material.
To understand why this is so, one must note the key phrase: “to produce the same amount of weapons material.” When starting with a higher-enriched feedstock, one has a higher concentration of the desirable isotope. Therefore, less feedstock is needed and less material needs to be processed.
So basically, 90% of the time/effort is the work to process the vast amount of natural uranium to yield the much smaller amount of 20% enriched material that requires the remaining 10% of the effort to provide the material for the bomb.
Another important consideration is that the estimate I have given assumes that the enrichment past 20% will be done the same way that enrichment for commercial reactors is done — i.e., trying to reasonably minimize the amount of U-235 that is thrown away in the tails. If, however, an aspiring nuclear state has plenty of 20% LEU stocked up and is willing to waste a substantial amount of the U-235, then the effort (and time) required to enrich it to weapons grade decreases even further. So by stockpiling a sufficient amount of 20 wt% LEU, Iran could take themselves 95% or more of the way to being able to build a bomb.
Since the process of enrichment is actually throwing away the unwanted materials, a 20% enrichment means that starting with 100kg of raw natural uranium you will end up with .72kg of U235 and 3.6 kg of U238. You have thrown away about 95 kg of U238. To enrich this blend more you need to throw away a lot less of the U238.
If I am understanding this correctly you statement is very understandable as well as your concern. I tend to believe that people say what they mean. Iraq has been very clear about what they think of Israel.
excuse me, Iran not Iraq.
“Iraq has been very clear about what they think of Israel.”
Actually you have been fed translations that are disputed by language experts. MEMRI is responsible for the most commonly quoted mis-translations. I suggest you research what this organization is all about if you wish to form an opinion as to motive.
Ah, I see, Iran has actually been saying that they wish Israel well. That they will defend their rights to exist as a nation state. That they have no desire to harm Israel and will use their weapons in defense of Israel. They have NOT been supporting any of the groups that are currently raining down rockets on Israel.
Actions speak as well as words.
I am not hostile toward Iran and in fact, there is a amazing growing Christian population in Iran. The reports I have heard are that it has a highly educated population. But their leadership has made their position clear and it is not peaceful.
Brian’s point is well taken, that the close connection between Hamas and Iran along with the shared hostility would mean a motivation to supply weapon level uranium to one of those rockets that are currently being used.
Gee….. I wonder….should two hostile nations threaten us, putting “all options” on the table, while being in possession of huge nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals, would we react with friendship?? Interesting that you don’t comment on our own, or Israel’s aggressions, use of WMDs, or war crimes. As far as Hamas goes, are you ignorant of the role Israel, subsidized and supported by the USA, has played in the Palestinians turning to groups such as Hamas? Your use of the term “raining down” is a standard hasbara talking point. And Israel’s targeting of schools, mosques, infrastructure?? Nary a mention from you. The thousand upon thousands of cluster bombs that Israel “rained down” on Lebanon, that are still maiming lebanese children to this day?? The incinerated children, fried in white phosphorous?? The absolute disdain that Israel has for over sixty UN resolutions?? The accusations of “war crimes” leveled at Israel by Human Rights Watch and amnesty international???? You ignore the truth.
I rebutted your talking points with the truth. I hope that Rod’s spam filter is in a bad mood, rather than Rod having deemed the post unacceptable. Your comment warrants strong and factual rebuttal, and it would be regretful if Rod doesn’t allow it.
Brian’s point is well taken, that the close connection between Hamas and Iran along with the shared hostility would mean a motivation to supply weapon level uranium to one of those rockets that are currently being used.
Although extremely sophisticated and experienced weapons designers in the US eventually managed to design and build atomic weapons small enough to be fired by artillery, I would estimate the probability of Iran being capable of using “weapon level uranium” to create nuclear explosives compact and light enough to fit on Hamas level rockets at a number so close to zero that it might as well be called zero.
I understand that making a field level atomic bomb is technically difficult. But making a simple atomic bomb that can be dropped from a medium sized airplane takes 1940’s tech. Especially if you have an excess amount of U235 in the bomb to make sure it will work.
Also, I agree with your general assessment about the economic motives people have. I – even as a strong conservative – believe we spend far too much on everything, including weapons. Our military could shrink some of the 80% of the personnel that stays off the battlefield with little loss of effectiveness.
You totally misunderstand my concerns here. I am to blame for that. I am not defending any military action that Israel may have taken, nor am I defending any current action. My point is that I believe if Iran has a nuclear weapon they will use it. Israel has had a nuclear weapon(s)? for decades and has NOT used it.
I am not trying to play pro-Israel “YEA they should defeat the evil Iranians!” I am saying that giving Iran the atomic bomb – which they have shown a strong willingness to actually use – will set off a firestorm that makes everything else we have seen in this horribly complex and war torn region look like a cake walk.
If the concerns that Brian is expressing about how easy it will be to move from 20% enrichment to 95% enrichment are realized. We could have WW III on our hands.
In terms of moral equivalencies between Israel and her enemies, I doubt I would side with one or the other, except to say that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish nation.
So to the point of the Non Proliferation Treaty – the concerns of the NPT advocates listed above seem cogent when compared with the progress of Iran toward weapons grade U235. This does give one pause and I find myself disagreeing somewhat with Rod at this point. Though I have been and still am a strong supporter and nearly fanatical advocate of Nuclear power.
In terms of moral equivalencies between Israel and her enemies, I doubt I would side with one or the other, except to say that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish nation.
Would you also say that Iran has a right to exist as a Muslim nation?
Are you aware of the discrimination in rights granted to life-long citizens in Israel that are not Jewish compared to even the most recently naturalized immigrants that are Jewish?
Why do you believe Iran has shown a strong willingness to actually use the bomb ??
It seems you are relying on very poor sources for your understanding of *actual* Iranian politics.
Hamas wouldn’t use the rockets that they currently are firing. They’re an impotent fireworks display — a show for the cameras. Almost all of them are being shot down by Israel’s missile defense. Anyone who has been following the this situation carefully knows that the tunnels are the real threat.
In any case, Iran does have missiles that could be used to launch even a relatively primitive nuclear weapon to targets within the Middle East.
“….except to say that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish nation.”
Considering that Netanyahu has sabotaged the two state solution, admitting as much with his latest comments concerning the West Bank, I fail to see how Israel can be democratic as a “jewish state”. Unless of course, he completely dispels, or eradicates the Palestinians. Perhaps you can explain how Israel can be “democratic” and a jewish state while having quite a few million muslims as citizens.
Make no mistake. This latest round of military aggression and collective punishment has nothing to do with three kidnapped Israeli teens. It is a pre-planned, and concerted effort to derail a Palestinian unity government.
“Almost all of them are being shot down by Israel’s missile defense.”
That is a false statement.
“Anyone who has been following the this situation carefully knows that the tunnels are the real threat.”
Thats all you have, isn’t it, Brian? You hear it in tv, and you repeat it by rote. If the tunnels are the real threat, then why the air attacks into Gaza proper, bombing infrastructure, schools, and hospitals? Why target kids playing soccer on the beach? You’ve got the hasbara down pat. Thats all you’ve got.
I am relying on common news sources. I am not an expert on these matters, but it is my understanding that Iran is supporting Hamas. Of course, we can swap news sources and call each other names while we argue this through. For the sake of argument, I could google folks that support Israel and you can google folks that hate Israel.
But the main point that a Nuclear weapon in the hands of people who are willing to fight an active war and who are committed to destroying Israel – who will strongly defend herself – is a recipe for WW III. Iran’s willingness to deceive, prevaricate, delay and find constant excuses for non-compliance does not engender confidence that they are NOT perusing an enriched uranium weapon (atom bomb).
I would be glad to be wrong about any of these points, but I follow a fair amount of news and I don’t think I have missed the major points.
One more point here. Up until this conversation, I followed Rod’s lead on this issue. It was Brian’s point about how close the highly enriched uranium (20%) was to weapons grade that made me pause and consider the whole environment and situation again. It makes the concerns much more cogent.
Also, I wish I could continue with this. It is a fascinating exchange but I have a great deal of work to prepare for next week. Please do not take my silence as ignoring your points but as diligence in another area.
I am relying on common news sources.
That, my friend, is an exceedingly dangerous thing to do if you want to understand something. The commercial media is not in business to serve readers or viewers; those are not their customers these days. Nearly every “common news source” I can think of, including PBS, is reliant on advertisers or commercial program sponsors for their revenue. Their real product is ad space that is made valuable because they attract an audience, often by focusing more on entertainment than information. Common news sources are also guilty of distraction – focusing people onto the latest shiny object even while many important events, discussions, science and technology developments go unreported.
News media is also a terrible place for learning about history unless you happen to be curious enough to search through archive collections and trace the way that story lines develop and change over time.
POA: You’re being disingenuous. The missiles with a relatively harmless trajectory are ignored by the Israeli’s missile defense systems. You are only logically correct, but then the best fibs are logically true.
Also, You’re fibbing in your implication that Israel is targeting hospitals, schools, children etc, as you worked to imply. You should know doggone well that they’re targeting Hamas infrastructure, which in many cases is adjacent to non-war infrastructure. Answer this question: Does Hamas have the moral fortitude to refuse to place rocket launchers away from Hospitals, schools, or other people’s children?
Show me evidence of Hamas rocketry or munitions stored in a hospital. Just the Israeli’s word for it?
I suggest you look at a map of Gaza. Not very big, is it?
The Israeli’s have the right to defend themselves. But the Palestinians??? They’re just supposed to roll over and submit, right?
Is what they’re doing really any better than the complete set of nonviolent actions? Also, You didn’t answer my question.
John – No, POA is right. It’s all a Jewish conspiracy. 😉
Oh … sorry … a Jewish wildcatter conspiracy. I almost forgot where I was. 😉
“Also, You didn’t answer my question.”
Perhaps Brian will be good enough to count the questions I’ve posed on this thread, that have gone unanswered, and give us his expert tally, eh? Or, uh, he can just spout forth with the kind of stupidity and empty blather that he offers with his 3:49 post.
But hey, at least he can post like a mature adult, with emoticons, even!
When I take a lunch break, I will attempt to answer your question. Sorry, but I will pass on including childish little yellow faces.
John – Please cut POA some slack. Conspiracy theories don’t just pop up overnight. They grow and evolve, and that takes time. Complex theories require quite a bit of effort to put together. They usually begin with complaints about too many “unanswered questions,” so we see that he’s reached the starting point in the process. Just give him some time to string the rest of it together, eh?
“You didn’t answer my question.”
Just re-read the exchange.I did attempt to answer your question, but I guess I should have made myself clearer. Did you look at a map of Gaza?? Pretty small, eh? Where would you suggest Hamas place its weaponry, where it is not in the vicinity of some sort of infrastructure? How convenient for the Israelis. No matter where they bomb, and who they kill, they can claim they were targeting Hamas, because Gaza is such a tightly packed Israeli imposed GHETTO that that timeworn excuse for killing women and children can be bandied forth ad nauseum. And those kids on the beach??? Oops. And the two teenaged kids shot and killed by IDF snipers a coupla weeks before the three Israeli kids disappeared?? Oops. And the american kid beat senseless by IDF jackboots??? Oops. The fishermen regularly used as target practice by IDF gunboats? Oops…….
131 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,581 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
1,111 Israelis and at least 7,149 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.
8,550 Israelis and 58,105 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.
0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and at least 28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967.
Israel currently has 262 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.
“Are you aware of the discrimination in rights granted to life-long citizens in Israel that are not Jewish compared to even the most recently naturalized immigrants that are Jewish?”
Yep, gotta love it, eh? A “democracy” that doesn’t allow a jew to marry a non-jew.
One has to wonder, now that Israel has completely destroyed the prospects of a two state solution, what she will do with all those uppity inferiors in Gaza and the West Bank. Perhaps camps are in order.
“Also, You’re fibbing in your implication that Israel is targeting hospitals, schools, children etc, as you worked to imply”
In this latest round of collective punishment and war crimes, Israel has shelled three hospitals. If history is to be repeated, there will be no independent investigation as to whether or not there was legal cause to do so. International law does not allow the targeting of hospitals, even if weaponry is stored on the premises. Israel is committing, as we speak, a huge atrocity in Gaza. To defend Israel’s actions is either to be either incredibly ignorant of the truth, or despicably racist. Or both.
The Israeli standard of “proof”…
On the contrary, international law forbids the use of human shields. Hamas’ use of hospitals and other civilian assets/personnel as shields for military assets is a war crime.
Does the international law you quote give the combatants the right to judge violations and impose their death penalties on the innocents?
I agree that human shields are wrong. However, there are less onerous paths for the aggressor than to simply make blanket statements and to assume they give carte blanche to freely target any location where there is a suspicion of weapons.
“I am relying on common news sources.”
I would be curious what “common news sources” you consider credible, especially as it applies to Israel and Iran.
“On the contrary, international law forbids the use of human shields. Hamas’ use of hospitals and other civilian assets/personnel as shields for military assets is a war crime.”
No, not on the contrary. My statement stands true. And, you are correct as well, as far as the law goes. However, I challenge you to show us independent verification that Hamas is using hospitals as a shielding tactic. Like Brian, you repeat by rote a narrative that you have neither researched nor questioned. So, please buttress your assertion with sources other than Israel’s mouthpieces, or the so-called mainstream media. Incidentally, these latest attacks on hospitals are not being justified by Israel claiming Hamas operatives were using them strategically. In fact, in the case of El Wafa, an IDF spokesman admitted to Hamas, ot Hamas assets not being targeted.
Engineer-Poet – Didn’t you get the memo? You’re being lied to, the Jewish-controlled media are feeding you a false narrative, and the sweet little boyscouts in Gaza are just as surprised as anyone else that those mean, old Israelis are attacking them.
After all, if you can’t trust a self-described “progressive, anti-Zionist” blog (Mondoweiss) to tell you the truth, then who can you trust?
Geez … this blog has been going down hill for some time now, but it seems finally to be hitting bottom. I guess I should have realized when Robert Gauthier (DV82XL) left for good in frustration last year that it was just a matter of time. I’ve always respected his opinion.
Anyhow, I wish Rod, and his favorite pet (POA), the best of luck as he aspires to become the Alex Jones of pro-nuclear advocacy. After reading some of his recent writings, I really think that he has what it takes to pull it off.
I trust that was a good bye. Sorry my writing is not up to your standards.
BTW, I think I have figured out why so many nuclear professionals are deeply concerned about the spread of enrichment technology to nations that might have more pro-nuclear regulators that those found in the “Western” world.
It would be exceedingly difficult to compete against a manufacturer that started out with modern technology, reasonable rules, and a work force that has been toughened by having to figure out how to “git ‘er done” instead of spending most of its available training time learning how to fill out all of the voluminous paper required in the US or France.
One more thing, Brian. Being anti-Zionist has nothing to do with being anti-Semetic. The Zionist movement to resettle European Jews in Palestine, an area that had not been controlled by the Jews for a couple of thousand years, has all kinds of strange and not terribly admirable historical roots.
I see Brian has contributed yet one more essay of empty blather. Unable to offer a sound argument, or buttress his natterings with any sort of credible substantiation, he resorts to the timeworn tactic of character assassination, and thinly veiled mutterings about anti-semitism. Because Rod happens to agree with parts of my argument, I am now, according to Brian, Rod’s “pet”. Can there be a more immature or pathetic rebuttal in an exchange such as this one? Where are Brian’s direct responses to some of the questions Rod and I have put forth? Where is his substantiating sourcing for the assertions he makes about Iran’s intent? Where are his counter arguments for the sourced information contained on the Mondoweiss website?
If Brian just stuck to his knowledge about nuclear science, and at least made an honest attempt to buttress his geo-political opinions with something other than talking points and opinions devoid of a researched rationale, we wouldn’t be witnessing this sad hissy fit.
I do not like to be a participant in any exchange that results in such animosity and the flight of a long time blog participant. I apologize to this community for my role in this. However, I do not apologize for my strong opinions about Israel and the damaging and corrosive effect our relationship with Israel has had on our credibility within the global community, and the shambles that relationship has made of our so called “national values”.
I strongly recommend, to those interested, that they view the video transcript of a quite recent Middle East Policy Council forum. Energy issues arise in the discussion, and I found it to be a fascinating and enlightening exchange. Chas Freeman is spot on in expressing EXACTLY what my own opinion is in regards to our incompetent and criminal machinations in the middle east….
David – You bring up a good point. The term “enrichment” is a bit of a misnomer, if you consider how the term is used in other contexts. When you enrich bread, you add things to it, specifically, the various nutrients that were lost in the preparation of the flour. Uranium “enrichment” is really the removal of U-238 (and some U-235 — see below), not the addition of anything.
Let me provide a bit of additional explanation of the last paragraph in my comment above. During uranium enrichment, U-238 is not the only material that is discarded. Some of the U-235 is thrown away too. (For commercial fuel, it’s usually about 0.2 to 0.3%.) Try as you might, it’s simply not feasible to remove every U-235 atom from the waste stream.
The leftover from enrichment is depleted uranium. It is mostly, but not completely, U-238. The reason that it is called “depleted” is that the concentration of U-235 is less than that of natural uranium.
Since it requires more effort to keep less U-235 out of the waste stream, whoever is doing the enrichment can reduce the amount of effort required by letting more U-235 go in the trash. The tradeoff is that more feedstock is needed to get the same amount of highly enriched material.
This balance between material and effort is determined by the circumstances. For making commercial fuel, it depends on the cost of uranium and the cost of enrichment. For making bombs, it depends on the amount of uranium that is available and the amount of time that one expects to have before the weapons program is shut down due to external pressure.
Brian & Rod:
What do you know of the A.V.L.I.S. technology? Specifically its ability to economically re-“mine” the tails of the US DU stockpile? The GE-H spun off Global Laser Enrichment facility under development in NC uses a process now with a different acronym — SILEX — granted approval by NRC a couple years ago. This technology is HIGHLY classified but reportedly represents an order of magnitude improvement in terms of energy, space, time, over the gas centrifuge just as the centrifuge represented over gas diffusion, which itself represented a tremendous improvement over the calutron.
I have for some time concluded that the front end of the fuel cycle — the U-235 — not the back end recycled plutonium (the so-called plutonium or U-233 economy of the future) that constitutes the significant future proliferation threat. U-235 bombs are FAR easier to assemble than plutonium bombs. The uranium in the form of DU fairly easy to acquire commercially, and in the perhaps not too distant future readily extracted from polymer mesh drift nets in the open ocean. AVLIS technology has many potential applications and once mastered easily duplicated around the world and even among amateur “hobbyists” as in home brew computers in the 70s or 3D printers today.
I do not know much about the technical details of laser enrichment, but I am familiar with GE’s long history of exceptionally successful efforts to protect its trade secrets.
There is no reason to suspect that the systems that GEH has developed and licensed will ever be easily mastered or duplicated around the world, especially by amateurs.
DU may be available, but so is natural uranium. It’s not hard to find or mine, especially in countries that do not have an obstructive regulatory agency.
It appears that an opposite interpretation of the Holden paper is possible. If you read the history of Dr.Henry Kendall you will find that he was very concerned about the spread of nuclear weapons and the development of intercontinental missiles that could deliver them. When insufficient funds were coming in to support his anti-weapon effort he turned to opposing nuclear energy because that generated far more money so that he could continue his anti-weapon efforts. Years back, in a NY Times Magazine interview he conceded that nuclear power had very small risks, but that its opposition generated the money he needed to carry on his opposition to the nuclear arms race.
It would be interesting to assemble the stories of many scientists who worked on the Manhattan project and later opposed the use of atomic weapons and even became opponents to nuclear energy. How many got “religion” after they had the glory of making such a devastating device?
Rod … it is unclear to me what you think you have been duped about?
“The drive for a nuclear-free world, in fact, has been a central thread of Obama’s foreign policy views for his entire adult life” (here and here).
From his early and significant achievements as a State Senator in a heavily nuclear State (as you highlight), to his short legislative record in Congress, and now as President (reflected in many important foreign policy decisions, appointment of Holdren and Macfarlane, pursuing workable alternatives to long-lived waste storage impediments in US, and more).
It seems to me an argument can be made that this better secures a viable future for nuclear on a global basis (especially in locations where there is rapidly expanding fossil fuel use and low benchmarks for good governance, political stability, corruption, regulatory competence, adhering to NPT international frameworks and commitments, emerging terrorist threats, etc.) … rather than ignoring these threats, and letting them go unaddressed (contributing to a further “eroding confidence” in NPT regime and other concerns with the expansion and interest in nuclear power). Holdren isn’t head of DOE (which does pursue active research and funding programs in nuclear energy), membership in PCAST is quite diverse, and issues of non-proliferation are central to executive agenda and foreign policy outlooks (where significant gains have already been made … especially in contrast with other administrations).
There is some discussion of “conspiracy” above. What makes you think Holdren “holds all the cards” in this area, and is not just one person and one voice on which a broader feedback and consensus can be reached from a variety of perspectives (some of which likely includes significant interest in development and expansion of nuclear power)? Do you think a President shouldn’t receive input on important policy matters from a variety of perspectives, and trust in a deliberative process (which seems to be this Presidents want) rather than a centrally informed process (and advisors whose primary role is to execute central directives?). Obama appointed his rival as Secretary of State, after all (kept his Defense Secretary, among other examples), he doesn’t seem particularly threatened by strong personalities and views that differ from his own (in style if not in content) … he even appears to welcome it. Holdren has many strengths to offer on important matters of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation (his passionate advocacy for nuclear power may not, as you suggest, be one of them).
I am pretty certain that what you see as a “viable future for nuclear” is a more restricted use of the technology that I think is warranted by its superiority over hydrocarbons in many applications and on many measures of effectiveness.
My point in this post was not to say that Holdren is omniscient or all powerful. However, his position as a leader in the nonproliferation over many decades is well known. By his own admission he believes that the right energy policy is an “anything but nuclear” path. Those ideas have been influential in the nonproliferation movement. As noted in the post, that movement has attracted some passionate activists who have adopted the talking points of people like Holdren to ignore all of the potential benefits that nuclear can bring because of their perception that the spread of nuclear weapons is so terrible that any ends justify the means.
Though I would prefer a world where nuclear weapons had never been developed, that is not the world into which I was born. Since nuclear weapons exist, and their use would threaten the lives of everyone on the planet, including those of the decision-makers and their families, the fact that they are owned by several different countries has been somewhat stabilizing. MAD really has worked to a certain extent. I have no real fear that expanding the number of nations with nuclear weapons or the capability to produce nuclear weapons would make us any less safe than we are today.
In contrast, the widespread energy poverty and income inequality that is an inevitable result of our excessive dependence on increasingly difficult to extract hydrocarbons makes all of us less safe than we need to be and most of us less prosperous that we would like to be.
That statement is not true of the very small slice of humanity that controls access to hydrocarbons and often works to restrict access to the best available alternative.
“I have no real fear that expanding the number of nations with nuclear weapons or the capability to produce nuclear weapons would make us any less safe than we are today”
It is my belief that certain regions would be safer with mutual antagonists equally armed. This is certainly true when discussing Israel/Iran. Conveniently, those above, defending our push to deprive Iran of a nuclear capability, have no rebuttal when it id pointed out that Israel has dumped White Phosphorous and cluster munitions on non-combatant populations. And we seem to have no compunction against laying waste the populated urban centers of countries we deem improperly governed.
Who had Iran invaded in the last century? Yet who, according to the Lancet Report, has murdered close to a million Iraqi non-combatants? Who, according to a UN report, caused over a half a million infant deaths by imposing crippling sanctions on a nation we were leveling contrived accusations at? And one need only read the Goldstone Report to realize how much regard Israel has for the non-combatant populations of countries they attack.
Iran should seek a nuclear weapons capability. Or Israel should dismantle their own nuclear arsenal. If any nation has shown that it is willing to use weapons such as nukes, Israel comes to mind.
It is my belief that certain regions would be safer with mutual antagonists equally armed.
That sounds like a Pax – nobody. With equal arms Israel would be disadvantaged in all other aspects: population, wealth, geography….
I can still see a potential advantageous relationship in the SE Levant:
Not only them but all of us too would be much better off if wealth accumulation was brought about by an entrepreneurial bourgeois being required to marshal the proletariat and like minded peers to generate his wealth. As it is, rent seeking behavior by non-entrepreneurial One percenters can break parsimonious systems to game wealth at the expense of the masses. We see this now in the breaking of the economic systems that favor baseload power in favor of complex systems that will eventually generate much wealth by zero-summing ratepayers. They’re gleaning the masses.
Why would anyone watch baseball or even golf on TV? Watching the 1 percenters beat the crap out of the masses is much more exciting, and as a game, has a much quicker pace. 🙂
Were it not for Oil wealth, I can see too strong a mutual benefit in the Palestinian people working with the Israelis, if only wealth were created by the marshaling of human ingenuity and work.
Well opposition to Iran’s civilian nuclear power program seems to have all but evaporated lately thankfully. As did oppositions to Pakistan’s and India. So the whole proliferation argument seems to be coming decoupled from civilian nuclear power. Even in the above arguments here it didn’t seem to take a serious role, or even a technical one.
On another note, Ill tell you one thing, If I lived in Europe right now id be pulling the plug on Russian gas. Germany has really screwed itself and everyone else over facilitating it and becoming so dependent on it.
I can’t help wondering how history would be different if Ukraine had kept its soviet nukes.
I sincerely hope that this thread has generated research about the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, and our shameful subsidizing of epic evil. There is no issue I can think of that has been do shaped by a dishonest political and media narrative. No matter your political, ethnic, or religious persuasion, a moderate degree of research beyond the scripted media narrative should convince you, one and all, that Israel is going far beyond a “defensive” military campaign. It shames me that my country stands almost virtually alone in defending Israeli war crimes and its deeply egregious crimes against humanity. History will not be kind in remembering our complicity.
My brother in law is very pro Israel apparently because of his interpretation of the bible. I don’t know how to respond to that. There are jewish scientists that I admire but I don’t agree with Israel’s actions.
“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Now theres a formula for peace, eh?
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