Nuclear threats are more and more prevalent these days with North Korea having tested a nuclear bomb in October of this year. Iran is also reported to be developing a weapons program, something its leaders deny. Terrorists are reportedly in search of nuclear capabilities; last year, Russian dissident Boris Berezovsky was quoted as saying that Chechen rebels were missing a small component to create a dirty bomb.

Obviously this is making world powers worried and they are increasing their pressure against potential nuclear proliferation. The US and Europe have been insistent on stopping Iran’s nuclear program. When North Korea tested its new capability, one of the first statements made by President Bush was a warning against passing the technology on to rogue states or terrorists. Understandably so, the West is worried.

Unfortunately, nuclear technology will not go away, and with the development of developing nations, it will be more and more present, because of its effectiveness. Not every country is blessed with the hydro-resources of Canadian province Quebec and not every country has the space required for wind-mill technology to produce electricity. Nuclear technology is compact and with the proper safety measures in place, one of the best ways of producing electricity.

Today in Jakarta, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei reminded that one of the initial reasons for going to Iraq was to dismantle Hussein’s reported WMD, notably a nuclear weapons program. Thusfar, no proof of any WMD activity has been brought forward in Iraq.

ElBaradei spoke of Iran and said that there is no urgency to act in Iran, because the state has no atomic reactor in operation and consequently can’t even go ahead with a weapons program.

“Nuclear energy alone is not a panacea, but it is likely in the near future to have an increasing role as part of the global energy mix,” said ElBaradei.

The nuclear chief at the UN was alluding to the expanding role nuclear energy is playing in Asia, with China and Indonesia undergoing a big nuclear energy surge as the countries reach a new developmental stage.

Iran may be looking for a nuclear weapons program, but it also may just be looking to power its country more effectively. That’s why its leaders hired Russian experts to build the country’s first nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

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Reports from Japanese media indicate that progress may be made when negotiations with North Korea are resumed later this month.

Kyodo News reports that the US and others have urged North Korea to abandon is nuclear program by 2008 in return for economic aid as well as security guarantees. All the while, the US and its allies are warning of additional sanctions if North Korea refuses to cooperate with the plan. This reasoning is much more in line with what IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called for two days ago and is a step in the right direction after a lack of progress in pre-negotiation talks this week. ElBaradei, the chief nuclear expert at the UN said that North Korea needed incentives to abandon its nuclear program, not just sanctions.

At the same time, a report in Tokyo Shimbun suggests that Pyongyang will offer uranium exports to Russia which can then be enriched and resold as nuclear energy fuel to China. According to the report, talks about giving Russia exclusive rights to North Korean uranium have been going on since 2002, and North Korea expects Russia’s open support at the nuclear negotiations in return for the deal.

Exclusive rights to North Korea’s uranium will be financially lucrative for Russia. It will also give some assurance that North Korea will not be enriching uranium for future nuclear blasts. However, there is no guarantee that Pyongyang will not continue to secretly enrich uranium not exported to Russia. It is a deal which will be difficult to turn down for the Russians and it will certainly make the negotiations interesting, as Russia has been looking for influence in Asia for quite some time.

Iran Cooperates

November 23, 2006

After Iran’s Ambassador to Russia spoke favorably about enriching uranium in Russia yesterday, Iran announced today that it would open up its records on uranium enrichment to IAEA inspectors.

This is yet another diplomatic step on the part of Iran to avert UN Security Council sanctions against it. Iran is slowly gearing up to play a bigger regional role; this weekend Iran’s President Ahmadinejad will be meeting with his Iraqi counterpart President Talabani to discuss three-way cooperation between Iran, Syria and Iraq in bringing stability back to war-torn Iraq.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is focused on nuclear energy, not arms. The IAEA’s view on the matter has largely confirmed Iran’s position, except for a plutonium discovery ten days ago. Today’s gesture is meant to clear up any doubts about Iran’s program.

This would be the perfect opportunity for the US and UK to start cooperating with Iran. After all, today’s announcement is a clear signal to the US, Iran’s biggest doubter. It is also a move meant to strengthen Russia’s position in the UN Security Council, as Russia has maintained an anti-sanction position and has curtailed US efforts to sanction the Iranian government.