Geopolitics

A Pen Pal for President Bush?

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 16, 2006

On May 10, Raise the Hammer published an article by independent researcher Rudo de Ruijter claiming that the United States is bribing Europe to support its campaign against Iran by proposing an oligopoly in enriched uranium.

A country that wanted to run a civil nuclear reactor would have to buy its uranium from a consortium Washington is calling the "Global Nuclear Energy Partnership" (GNEP), a few countries authorized under a tighter Non-Proliferation Treaty to produce enriched uranium. The other NPT members would be shut out and would have to purchase their uranium from the GNEP.

A CBC report from earlier today marks the progress of this initiative. A group of European countries is considering offering a light-water reactor to Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing to buy its enriched uranium from Europe.

Uranium enriched to fuel a light-water reactor cannot be used in weapons, which require the fuel to be enriched to a much higher level. So far, Iran has enriched uranium enough to use as fuel. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that it would take Iran at least another five years to produce weapons-grade uranium.

Iran has already announced that it finds the offer unacceptable, since it is being asked to give up its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has subjected Iran to an exhaustive, three year inspection of its nuclear operations and found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The CBC article reports that Russia and China, both veto-holding members of the Security Council, will not vote to use force in the motion the United States has put before the Council.

The US delegation knows that its Security Council motion will fail, and has carefully crafted it to do just that. Drafted under the Security Council's Chapter 7 rules, which carry the threat of sanctions and even military action for failure to comply, the motion calls on Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development" - essentially, to give up its legal rights under the NPT to enrich uranium for its energy use.

With Russia and China already prepared to block the motion on the straightforward grounds that it is completely absurd, this "failure" of the UN process to protect American interests will provide a convenient cover for the US government to act unilaterally when it launches its military assault on Iran.

Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote an 18-page letter to US President George W. Bush, asking to open a dialogue. The sprawling and sometimes bizarre missive questions the validity of liberal democracy as America practices it and asks how a follower of Christ could justify the atrocities that the United States has committed in the name of the "War on Terror".

This is the first official communication between the two countries since the 1979 revolution in Iran that ousted US client Shah Reza. During the present crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the United States has steadfastly refused to engage Iran directly in any talks.

What an unfortunate time for America to suffer a President who doesn't like to read!

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted May 16, 2006 at 16:07:29

Interesting update Ryan. However you seem to be prophesizing another run up to war. Do you really think this is the road the US will travel? I find it hard to imagine the US could sell another war to the US public, least of all afford it.

Ben

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By Bud (anonymous) | Posted May 16, 2006 at 20:26:10

I'm not sure that the US would need to go to war with Iran. As stated by several sources, the US is seriously considering tactical nukes to take out enrichment facilities. This could be accomplished with minimal man-power and no "boots on the ground". All it would require is a few stealth fighters and a few bombs. However, if the stories about Iran demanding payment for oil in euros is true, would this type of strike against Irans nuclear ambitions do anything to stop the oil-for-euros campaign?
Bud

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 16, 2006 at 22:38:30

I certainly don't foresee a major invasion as in Iraq. The US military simply doesn't have the manpower. I also consider the risk of America using tactical nuclear weapons to be remote. The US possesses enough conventional firepower, like the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), to destroy any surface facilities, and the so-called "bunker buster" nuclear weapons presently have extremely limited ability to penetrate the earth.

Instead, I see attack of aerial bombardments and missile strikes, possibly in conjunction with Israel, to decapitate the Iranian leadership and destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.

If America does launch an invading force, it will be to take over the southwest corner of Iran, near the Iraq and Kuwait borders. The justification will be to block coordination of attacks between Iraqi and Iranian insurgents, but the area also significantly is home to most of Iran's oil.

In the recently passed Iran Freedom Support Act , the US "declares that it is the policy of the United States to deny Iran the ability to support acts of international terrorism ... by limiting the development of Iran's ability to explore for, extract, refine, or transport by pipeline petroleum resources."

Handy, eh?

But I need to stress that this isn't just an oil grab. In a larger sense, it's a desperate effort to prevent Iran from becoming a regional power, establishing strong economic ties with Russia and China, and setting up an oil exchange mechanism that undermines dollar hegemony.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 17, 2006 at 11:45:22

An English translation of Ahmadinejad's letter is available on the CNN website:

http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/world...

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By charlesgh (registered) | Posted May 17, 2006 at 12:33:55

I am a nuclear non-proliferationist and consider comments about bunkerbusters and tactical nuclear weapons to be irresponsible, and the existence of such are only urban myth.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 17, 2006 at 14:41:36

charlesgh,

I'm not sure what you're saying here. The US Pentagon has been researching and developing its Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) tactical nuclear weapon since at least 2002.

For more information, here are links to reports by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the Union of Concerned Scientists on the Pentagon's RNEP project, plus a November 2002 article in New Scientist magazine:

http://www.fas.org/main/content.jsp?formAction=297&contentId=401 http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nu... http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?i...

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