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NZ's nuclear-free voice sounds sweet from MidEast

NZ's nuclear-free voice sounds sweet from MidEast

by Henri Bou-Saab in Beirut, Lebanon

The issue of nuclear energy, and nuclear weapons, has been in the news lately.

First, it was the allegations made by the British and U.S. governments against the former socialist dictator in Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

The world was told that he was making progress on illegal plans to develop weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq had to be invaded and occupied to put an end to it.

More recently the news has focused on the Persian nation of Iran.

Many Iranians say their country needs to prepare for its future energy needs after oil and gas are depleted, while Western governments, no doubt with popular support at home, hold the opposite view that nuclear technology can't be trusted in the hands of Iranians or their elected president.

It is easy to see how this issue becomes a very emotionally-charged one which splits those in the West against those in the East with strong passions.

The whole issue is simplied into a simple black and white issue about what is right and what is wrong.

The Western leaders say it is morally wrong to allow Iranians to get any step closer to acquiring powerful technology that might be used for military purposes at some future date against the West.

That is a privilege that can only be enjoyed by the select few, including of course the U.S., Britain and France.

The view of many in this part of the world, including Arabs, Kurds as well as of course Persians, is rather different.

Here many would say that the achievement of nuclear energy must be achieved long before oil and gas reserves run dry and, if a future presidential candidate in Iranian elections campaigns on a platform to develop nuclear weponry and wins an election, then that will be a legal and moral mandate to proceed.

Leaked or allegedly leaked news reports of plans in the West to invade or bombard Iran have of course only strengthened the political hand of those on the political right-wing in Iranian politics who do indeed want Iran to one day join the nuclear club.

But it is times like these that I think about New Zealand, a country well known for its nuclear-free policy,

What is missing in the very public and emotionally-charged debate in the world today which pits the nuclear-powered U.S., U.K., Israel and allies against the non-nuclear powered Iran, is an alternative viewpoint, an alternative voice - the voice of a country like New Zealand.

The Middle East is full of very talented people. It is a very diverse region with every single country in the region multi-national and multi-religious and not one country in the region is achieving anywhere near its full potential because of political stalemates and ridiculous disputes over so many issues - except the really important issues:

The promotion of democracy and freedom in the Arab countries, the right of the Palestinians to a viable State in the territories that Israel illegally invaded in 1967, the investment in education and health services and the strengthening of our economies which remain bogged down in bureaucracy and barriers to growth and development.


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