Monday, May 15, 2006

The Nuclear Turns into "Green"

The recently concluded summit of eight developing nations (D-8) in Bali has resulted in one interesting phenomenon. Amidst international objection on nuclear technology proliferation by non-nuclear states and seemingly inspired by the determination of one of its members, Iran, to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, the D-8 declared in their joint statement that they fully supported the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes by any country in the world. The D-8 believes that is in the basic right of any sovereign country in the world to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. They also agreed that nuclear technology would provide a very important alternative way to fulfill any shortage of energy in future.

The decision by the D-8 to adopt a nuclear friendly policy as an alternative source of energy has become an instant headlines in international news. The fact that most of the members in the grouping are big oil producers, their bold declaration has raised some eyebrows. If the continuing increase of oil price in international market is the source of worry to immediately shift their focus of energy sources to fuel their economic machineries to nuclear technology, it seems this reason is little bit hard chew. With the abundant reserve in oil and other natural energy resources, this price increase should not be a worry for them.

But if the facts that these natural energy resources like oil, gas or coal do not last forever and cannot be recycled become the main reason of adopting this policy and the fact that there is a possibility to create a cheaper and affordable source of energy through nuclear technology, then this reason is, in my opinion, wholly acceptable. Because in the world which is increasingly demanding higher supply of oil and natural resources to keep the economic machineries running steadily, the abundant reserve of oil and other natural energy resources in these countries cannot keep these machineries running in a long period of time.

Shortage of oil and natural energy resources would soon become an unavoidable reality in the near future. Thus, there is a good reason to give nuclear technology a fresher look.

Uranium which becomes the main fuel in nuclear technology is abundant in number and inexpensive in price as compared to oil and other natural energy resources. Nuclear energy produced through this technology can replace fossil-fuel power plants for generating electricity and other industrial needs thus reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute heavily to global warming. Through nuclear technology there would be diversification of energy resources thus minimizes the use of oil and other natural energy resources and prolongs its usage. Nuclear technology is thus the most likely alternative source of energy in the future and the decision by the D-8 to choose nuclear technology as its future alternative source of energy is wholly perfect.

But the question now is how this declaration would affect the nuclear equation in international stage dominated by the US and Europe? Because, even though the manifesto of the grouping does not restrict its membership to only developing Muslim countries, but the current members of the grouping are eight Muslim dominated countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. This gives an impression that the nuclear now goes ‘green’ and Iran has found more supporters to cheer her on in the quest of becoming a nuclear power state.

This declaration by the D-8 certainly could alter the international nuclear equation in the future. Because this declaration came in a time when there is an immense pressure by the US and its allies as well as by the international communities to Tehran, a member of the D-8, to stop its efforts to develop nuclear technology. Furthermore, this declaration seems to challenge the status quo of nuclear power and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Even though nuclear technology does not mean nuclear weapon, but once a country is capable of acquiring a nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, it is also, in the long run, capable of creating nuclear weapons from it. There is always possibility for that country to turn the spent fuel rod of uranium into nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan are clear examples. Or even worse, the current nuclear powers supply developing nations with uranium and taking the spent fuel rods back to create nuclear weaponry. The double standard given by the US on nuclear policy through a nuclear deal with India would further aggravate the situation.

To quote an editorial from the New York Times, “How much impact nuclear power could really have in slowing carbon emissions has yet to be spelled out, but there is no doubt that nuclear power could serve as a useful bridge to even greener sources of energy.” And with the declaration by the D-8, the nuclear has become ‘green’. But how far this ‘green’ would affect the nuclear equation in the future still remains to be watched closely. For now, nuclear technology is the most likely alternative source of energy which is green, affordable yet dangerous.

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