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.

Iraq Report Delivered

December 6, 2006

As was expected, the Iraq Study Group has advocated training more Iraqi forces and engaging in diplomacy with Iraq’s neighbors, Iran and Syria. The report also favors gradually getting US combat troops out of Iraq. Its assessment of the situation in Iraq as “deteriorating” and says that Bush’ policy is “not working.”

It remains to be seen what the reaction of the US executive will be to the report it commissioned. Change in policy is likely, because of President Bush’s Secretary of State nominee Robert Gates. Gates’ discourse has differed from his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, and he has said that the US is “not winning” in Iraq. That seems to be in line with the Iraq Study Group’s report, which sees the situation in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating.”

Whether the US is in a stand-off with Iran and Syria or not, it will have to welcome some sort of dialogue with Iraq’s neighbors. After all, Iran has already initiated a process of dialogue within the region, with Iraqi President Talabani visiting Iran and meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and spiritual leader Khamenei. Iraq and Syria have also taken a step towards regional diplomacy by resuming diplomatic relations, which were cut off when Syria supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. Iran and Syria also have influence over different factions in Iraq; Iran is an influential Shi’a voice, while Syria’s population is mostly Sunni (despite its Alawite leadership). Syria may also come to play a bigger regional role, if it is successful in acting with diplomacy in the current political stand-off in Lebanon.

One of the report’s contentious points is suggesting to cut off US aid and military support if the Iraqi government does not reach certain targets. While this may be effective as putting necessary pressure on Iraq, it would also contravene with Bush’s “stay the course” dogma.

President Bush has not said if he will act on the report’s suggestions, saying that he will take them into serious consideration.

Italy’s PM Prodi has suggested that Europe needs a central power authority for the continent.

The suggestion comes after the recent blackouts across Europe.

While Prodi may find it absurd that Europe has no central power authority, it also makes sense in a free market world. No one would want one country or one entity to control an asset as essential as energy.

This is precisely the problem that Europe currently has with Russia, which controls a major part of gas exports into Russia.