Monday, April 03, 2006

Nuclear cartel in the making

Something called "the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership" is to be created to further nuclear power in the world, under the explicit control of two nations.

Energy Minister Malcom Wicks admitted in Parliament on 30 March that "The United Kingdom is discussing, with the United States, the development of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

"There have been bi-lateral meetings between the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss the American proposals."

However, he added "this proposed programme is at very early stage and there is no need for, nor timetable for, an announcement at this point."

Both countries are actively pursuing new nuclear build, whether at home or through lucrative contracts abroad - India for example. This is another piece of evidence displayng what a sham the current Energy Review is.


Eric McErlain said...

Is "cartel" the right word in this case? GNEP is primarily designed to push forward the technology required to recycle used nuclear fuel, as well as to set up a new regimen to respond to concerns about non-proliferation (we'll give you reactor fuel if you send your spent fuel to us).

I understand your opposition to nuclear energy. But while I don't agree with you, there are a number of nations that seem determined to pursue civilian reactor programs whether the West objects or not. In that light, doesn't a policy of engagement make some sense?

David T said...

This is a good point, and thanks for making it.

A cartel is defined as:

1. A combination of independent business organizations formed to regulate production, pricing, and marketing of goods by the members.
2. An official agreement between governments at war, especially one concerning the exchange of prisoners.
3. A group of parties, factions, or nations united in a common cause; a bloc.

In popular parlance there's also a suggestion of exclusivity and even price-fixing, but that's not at issue here.

What is, is the long-held assumption that the two nations who began the use of militaary and as a result civil nuclear technology are seeking to further their technological and commercial exploitation of it.

Originally developed to defeat the Axis powers and then to target the Communist bloc, these powers and their allies are struggling to limit the spread of the nuclear genie, long since out of the bottle, for military purposes, while trying to get the most commercial benefit from it.

There is an inherent hypocrisy and tension in this of the highest order. Such tension necessarily results in a world far more insecure than it would be if the nations who are signed up to the non-Proliferation Treaty agreed that they would desist from using the technology at all.

Your, pragmatic, argument is that given the technology is there, shouldn't the US/UK try to minimise the danger of its use.

Sure, if that were the real objective of the GNEP. But it is not.

It is to create a dependency that will draw in economic benefit.

But any dependency works both ways, and GNEP is an example. Once the technological and economic dependence on nuclear exists it becomes self-perpetuating. There is a driver to keep creating profit and political/economic power from it.

One of the Low Carbon Kid's fundamentals is that a world without nuclear power is a safer and more secure world. To achieve that, all the capital and effort presently diverted to nuclear power would be better deployed in energy management, demand reduction, and the development of carbon-free alternatives whose technological life is infinitely longer - because the fuel will not run out.

As an example, Libya recently signed a deal with
France to use nuclear power to create drinkable water from sea water. How absurd.

Libya is blessed with ample free energy from the sun and could easily have chosen to have a solar thermal power station of the type being built in Nevada.

The fact that it did not is more to do with the stupid status attached to being part of the 'nuclear club' in international politics than appropriateness or economics.

Why else does Iran want it? It could equally choose the same technology.

And so the spread continues...

Cartel? I think that fits the definition.

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