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Global Nuclear Energy Partnership a potential nuclear suppliers cartel; IAEA proposals for multilateral fuel supply system may falter on participants’ NIMBY attitude toward nuke waste dumps

Posted by gmarkets on 28 September, 2007

Michael Richardson – a former Asia editor of the International Herald Tribune, and a security specialist at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies in Singapore – wrote in The Canberra Times,, (25/9/2007, p.17), “France had echoed earlier warnings from the United States and Israel that if negotiations with Iran over its controversial nuclear program failed, military action might follow. The United Nations Security Council has called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear technologies”.

High anxiety: “This is where the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and Australia come in. On the same day France issued its warning, the world’s five leading makers of fuel for nuclear reactors – China, France, Japan, Russia and the US – met with other concerned countries to enlarge a cooperative arrangement they formed last year, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership”.

Nuclear aspirants join club: At the meeting in Vienna on 16 September, Australia and 10 more states that produce nuclear power – or plan to do so – joined the partnership, bringing its membership to 16. Another 22 governments sent observers to the meeting. The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, welcomed GNEP’s expansion as “a major initiative that is badly needed, therefore very timely” .

Potential nuclear suppliers cartel: The US caused concern among even some of its allies, such as Canada and Australia, when it proposed the partnership in February last year. They saw it as a potential nuclear suppliers cartel and feared that its rules might conflict with their interests. Canada and Australia are the world’s top exporters of uranium. They could add value to the business by enriching uranium, fabricating fuel for both nuclear power and research reactors, and reprocessing the used fuel”.

Voters at home oppose nuclear waste dumps: “But they do not want to be obliged to accept and store the radioactive residues of their uranium exports because this could be intensely unpopular with voters at home. As a result, IAEA proposals for a multilateral fuel supply system could fail – a blow to curbing the spread of nuclear weapons. International division over sensitive nuclear technologies will also make it even more difficult to persuade Iran to give up its enrichment program”.

The Canberra Times, 25/9/2007, p. 17

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