Azara Blog: No global moratorium on new nuclear facilities

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Date published: 2005/04/04

The Financial Times says (subscription service):

The US has rejected a proposal by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a five-year, global moratorium on the construction of new facilities for enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium.

One month before a conference to review the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty (NPT), the US and Iran find themselves in uncommon agreement in their joint opposition to the plan put forward by Mohamed ElBaradei.

According to diplomats in Vienna, where the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency is based, the US wants to expand its private civilian nuclear power industry, while Iran insists it should not be denied access to such technology.

Mr ElBaradei argues that the world already has more than enough capacity to fuel its nuclear power plants and research facilities. His proposed moratorium is intended to give the international community a breathing space to work out revisions to the treaty, widely acknowledged to be in danger of collapse.

North Korea quit the NPT in 2003 and later admitted possession of nuclear weapons. Iran is among several countries suspected of developing a clandestine nuclear weapons capability while remaining party to the treaty, which allows member states to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

One diplomat in Vienna said the White House had agreed to the proposed moratorium on condition that it did not apply to the US. France and Japan also oppose the plan. "The moratorium is going nowhere," the diplomat said. The US State Department declined to comment.

The US and the European Union are demanding that Iran abandon its uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing programmes. Iran refuses but it has largely frozen related activities for the past 18 months.

Needless to say the US and Europe are completely hypocritical about this all. They believe they should have the right to have nuclear programmes but nobody else should. This is the problem with international institutions like the UN and the IAEA, they just provide cover for the big nations to beat up on the small nations. Iran would have had to cave in long ago were it not for its trump card, oil.

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