Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Even More on the 123 Agreement for Nuclear Cooperation with Russia

Ivan Oelrich has an excellent posting on the Federation of American Scientists blog today regarding the proposed 123 Agreement for nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Russia. I wholeheartedly agree with Ivan’s analysis on Iran, “that the Russians have, overall, been responsible in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program and have come up with some innovative ideas.” I also agree that there are much better arguments than Iran for opposing the agreement, as I have said in previous postings here and here.

In his analysis, Oelrich points out that the 123 agreement with Russia may be part of an effort to bolster the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. In addition to Russia, the U.S. is pushing agreements for nuclear cooperation with all of the Middle East countries that have expressed interest in developing a nuclear program since the 2006 appeal from Secretary General of the Arab League and former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa to the Arab world, “to quickly and powerfully enter the world of using nuclear power.” In the memoranda of understanding with Middle Eastern countries signed thus far, the U.S. is tying GNEP to nuclear cooperation with these countries. This, I think, bolsters Oelrich’s argument for fighting GNEP directly, rather than individual agreements for cooperation.

In an article for the Middle East Report on this subject to be published this summer, I argue, among other things, that the U.S. is selling GNEP as part of the nuclear cooperation packages in part because it needs a lucrative market to sell a new generation of reactors and fuel. Convincing countries in the Middle East to forego domestic reprocessing and enrichment also bolsters U.S. plans to reprocess fuel from domestic and foreign reactors for use in a new generation of reactors. However, this is a highly unstable and hypocritical policy that will only widen the gap between the nuclear haves and have-nots. Addressing the deep-seeded inequalities of the nonproliferation and disarmament regime is far more likely than nuclear cooperation agreements to mitigate proliferation concerns in the Middle East and around the world.

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