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Sonia Nettnin: The Politics of Nuclear Power

The Politics of Nuclear Power

By Sonia Nettnin

Joseph Cirincione spoke about nuclear energy, security and non-proliferation to members of the North Suburban Peace Initiative at St. Frances Xavier in Wilmette, IL on Saturday night.

The theme for his keynote address was ''A Strategy for Nuclear Security and Non-Proliferation.''

Cirincione is a senior associate and director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. He is a regular media commentator on security issues and he chairs the annual Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference.

While he talked about recent developments in Iran and the U.S. Administration’s foreign policy, he expressed his concerns.

“This is going to be the most urgent foreign policy crisis,” he said. “We just have to find different ways.”

Cirincione explained how the U.S. started the Atoms for Peace Program under the Eisenhower Administration. One of the program’s objectives was the peaceful use of nuclear power. Most countries do not have a complete fuel cycle. He added that the real money in the reactors is the fuel.

While Cirincione gave an overview of nuclear energy production, he explained which part of the nuclear energy cycle that is a U.S. contention regarding Iran. In a nutshell, it is the production of highly enriched uranium, HEU (Universal Compliance A Strategy for Nuclear Security, June 2004). According to Cirincione, Iran’s nuclear reactor program was public, but the uranium enrichment program was not.

Ten days ago, the European Union brokered a deal with Iran to freeze the processing technology of HEU isotopes. This Thursday, the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be discussed by high-level officials.

Whether the Bush Administration will show flexibility with this process is questionable.

“We have a major credibility problem,” Cirincione said. “We have a trust problem.”

Cirincione just returned from high-level meetings in Europe. Basically, the Europeans are afraid the U.S. will hijack the UN Security Process.

This past weekend, President George W. Bush met with members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to rally support. In Santiago, Chile, they held the 12th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.

In Wilmette, some controversial discussion transpired between Cirincione and an audience member about the “cleanliness” of radioactive waste, compared to greenhouse gases. Even if plutonium can be buried in a geological, stable region, it has a half-life of 24,000 years. Nuclear waste is an unsolved problem Cirincione concluded. He believes in a balanced, energy program that includes wind, solar, geothermal, and hydrogen power.

Global Landscape 21st Century

Cirincione explained there is a larger agenda at work. It includes a regime change. Part of the plan is a radical transformation of the geopolitical landscape of Middle East.

Some members of the neoconservative think tanks believe America is answering a call of history. They are on a mission. It involves the transformation of the world. “Some of them believe God is calling them to do this,” he said.

Manifest destiny never left America’s collective consciousness. The U.S. media beats the drums.

What Next?

The recent U.S. elections demonstrated a new level of political involvement and commitment by the people. When people listen to media programs and reports, they can hear the differences between fear, opinion and information.

People do not want to be scared to death anymore. However, people cannot be complacent observers. If they listen closely, they can hear what is said between the lines. Then, people can share their opinions with their Congressional representatives, editors and newscasters. Names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses are online, just clicks away.

On Saturday, Congress passed the $388-billion dollar Omnibus? Bill. Congress did not allocate funds for new generations of nuclear design. Therefore, no money will be spent on the development of nuclear weapons for conventional use.

The chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Dave Hobson (R-OH, 7th District) said it is the most foolish d--- thing he has heard of.

Nuclear head reduction is on the agenda for the U.S. military. The projected target is about 4,000. The single most expensive program in the U.S. budget is the missile defense program. It is eleven billion.

At the end of the day, there is a difference between thinking something is true and knowing something is true. Faith in God does not justify bombs.

If political leaders care about the life of this planet, then they will work together for a peaceful world.


Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.

Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.

She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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