Modernity vs. Non-Proliferation: Nuclear Energy in the Middle East

Written by admin on July 16th, 2009

Some provocative observations based on a recent international conference on nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation, hosted by the Jordan based Arab Institute for Security Studies, is posted on ArmsControlWonk.com. Written by Geoffrey Forden, an associate at MIT’s Science, Technology & Global Security Working Group and a conference participant, it offers a quick insight on how differently the nuclear haves in the West and the nuclear have-nots in the Middle East view non-proliferation.  The former sees the need to control tightly the supply of nuclear enrichment facilities; the latter understands such control to be the suppression of technology required to boost their flagging economies.  That a “nuclear renaissance” may be obligatory in the area was illustrated by Jordan’s plight: when oil jumped to $70 per barrel, the Kingdom was devoting 15% of its GDP to purchase oil; in contrast, the US was spending 3.6% of its GDP on oil.

Forden points out that the two sides talked at, or past, but rarely to, one another. He observes that current non-proliferation efforts will need to “reinvigorate the bargain inherent in the NPT—nuclear technology and know-how in exchange for verifiable renunciation of nuclear weapons—with fresh ideas and new, inventive types of safeguards, but it will also have to give up its belief that nuclear weapons are safe in some hands but not in others: all nuclear weapons are dangerous.”  The spirited commentary afterward is also a worthwhile read.

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