Iranian Opportunity 162

Israel has been an apartheid state for a long time, but its cabinet is now promoting legislation that makes it impossible for even its most ardent supporters to deny that fact. With the cumulative effect of continuing land-grab and intermittent horrific attacks on Gaza, the climate of international public opinion has never been so resolutely opposed to Israel’s actions.

Iran had a tremendous opportunity to make a fundamental shift of the political balance in the Middle East through concessions on its nuclear programme. For Iranian sanctions to end just as Israel determinedly outrages the world, could change the geo-political game significantly. On any objective measure, the economic gains from ending sanctions vastly outweigh any possible economic gains from nuclear energy. I have always argued that nuclear power is a ridiculously complex, dangerous, and extravagantly expensive way to boil water. That is all it actually does, boil water to drive a steam turbine. Iran’s pig-headed insistence that its “right” to this crazed technology is much more important than the economic welfare of its people, is gesture politics of the worst kind.

Iran has undoubtedly improved, but remains a theocratic state with an appalling human rights record, where the persecution of gays is particularly horrifying. There are only two countries in the world with systems of government so appalling as to have seats reserved for clerics in the legislature. One is Iran. The other is the United Kingdom.

I can understand why, under continued neo-con and Israeli threat, retaining the option of developing a nuclear weapon has seemed attractive to Iran. It remains a gross hypocrisy that Israel suffers no sanctions for its large nuclear arsenal, while Iran suffers sanctions for the possibility it might one day start to develop one. Nonetheless I oppose the holding of weapons of mass destruction anywhere, including Iran. The unfortunate fact is that President Rouhani remains subservient to Ayotollah Khameini, and thus a golden opportunity for Iran may be missed.

It is also interesting that the latest round of talks in Vienna did not receive the breathless coverage of earlier rounds, despite their critical importance. There is a curious lethargy in the international community’s approach to the talks. That was for two reasons.

Firstly Obama is now a lame duck President. While impending full Republican control of both houses ought to be a reason to push things through quickly, Obama is wary of expending too much of his tiny remaining store of political capital in yet more conflict with Netanyahu.

The second reason is oil. With oil prices already much fallen, many of the participants are wary of releasing a flood of Iranian oil on to the market by ending sanctions. This especially affected the Russian attitude. In past talks, Russia has played a brilliant hand, with their offers to take effective control of Iranian enrichment technology having stymied an earlier Israeli-stoked Western appetite for conflict. A talks insider told me that this time, while previous offers were not withdrawn, Lavrov was far less prominent and active and no new Russian initiatives were forthcoming. Russia really does not need a further drop in the oil price right now.

I remain hopeful that Iran will realise that there is a huge opportunity here. If Iran tactically backs down on its nuclear programme in the current circumstances, that will not be a defeat for Iran but a defeat for the neo-cons.

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162 thoughts on “Iranian Opportunity

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  • Clark

    Rehmat, are you saying that me, Squonk and Ba’al Zevul are all wrong, and you are right, because we all believe the “Israeli” science found on Wikipedia whereas you know the truth?

  • passerby

    Hi Clark,

    Good to see you have picked up on my points, that are at the root of the current showdown. Fact that nuclear sciences are the bedrock of the future progress is a given. However the fact that a few oiks (using Nevermind’s phrase)have managed to use it for destructive purposes, has rendered this branch of sciences to become a quagmire that is operating on FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) factors of the 18th order.

    You have rightly pointed to Windscale reactor that later was rebranded as Sellafield (but that accident happened because the reactor was driven hard to produce weapons grade plutonium, the Wigner energy or the latent heat build up in an uneven fashion finally resulted in the reactor fire, which as we all know was fought by a fire brigade that had no idea how to fight a reactor fire? ) were and if I recollect years later another cock-up was the debacle surrounding it’s highly toxic reprocessed MOX fuel which was sold to Japanese for it to be returned from Japan amidst wrangling of doctored and inaccurate test papers, that made the whole batch useless for Japanese reactors.

    Fact that in the current dash for cutting costs and austerity, there never has been any talk of reducing the stock piles of weapons grade plutonium (hence reducing costs) that demands huge resources, security and a regular regimen of moving it around to stop the irradiation of the storage area it has been stored in. Furthermore, as Nevermind has pointed out the austerity does not apply to Trident and the huge costs thereof, that probably would solve the problems of NHS and many other services that are currently under the onslaught of cost cuttings and cut backs.

    The fact that nuclear fuel is enriched to five to seven percent levels, does not make it too toxic, and in fact James Lovelock himself is on record that we need to build up on nuclear power generation, and cut back on the use of hydrocarbon based fuels. Needless to know; for his wisdom James Lovelock has been pilloried and consigned into obscurity.

    We cannot stop genetic research because some oik wishes to mutate the perfect soldier! We cannot stop steel production because another oik wishes to use it to manufacture bayonets. The centrifuges that are used to separate the uranium isotopes can also separate other precious isotopes and contribute towards Iran’s economy. These factors however are not debated or even pointed at. Instead there is a torrent of rubbish directed towards the “military” angle of it all, which is really an obtuse and jaundiced view of a country’s efforts in making advances in the various industrial fields.

    The question of Iran’s nuclear “weapons” development is a red hearing and this can be seen in the form of various sanctions and the constant berating and derision of Iran in any given opportunity. This is in line with keeping the third world suckling at the teats of the US et al for all their industrial needs, which then in turn renders these countries to sell their resources at very low prices or no price in case of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, etc. further the proceeds of their trade then to get recycled back into US et al economies for most of manufactured products. This model can be seen in the almost stagnant and idle economies of the third world that despite the massive sales of oil etc. experience staggering levels of poverty and hungry citizens, who are unable to enjoy the proceeds of the sales of their raw materials.

    The notion that we need alternative forms of energy production, somehow always ends up in pursuit of methods that are not capable of replacing the use of hydrocarbons. In fact the ridiculous grants offered to produce fuel for vehicles at the expense of food for human beings. The reality is the oil barons are ensuring that there never can be any credible alternative to their wares.

    As Nevermind

  • Mary

    Israel’s Secret
    By davidswanson – Posted on 03 December 2014

    ‘At Tel Aviv University we see students, Palestinian and Jewish, hold an event to read out the names of villages that were destroyed. Nationalists waving flags come to try to shout them down. These properly educated Israelis describe cities as having been “liberated.” They advocate expelling all Arabs. A member of the Israeli parliament tells the camera that Arabs want to exterminate Jews and rape their daughters, that the Arabs threaten a “holocaust.”

    The filmmaker asks an angry Israeli woman, “If you were an Arab, would you celebrate the state of Israel?” She refuses to allow the possibility of seeing things from someone else’s point of view to enter her head. She replies, “I’m not an Arab, thank God!”

    A Palestinian challenges a nationalist very politely and civilly, asking him to explain his views, and he swiftly walks away. I was reminded of a talk I gave last month at a university in New York at which I criticized the Israeli government, and a professor angrily walked out — a professor who’d been eager to debate other topics on which we disagreed.

    A woman who participated in the Nakba says in the film, in an effort to excuse her past actions, “We didn’t know it was a society.” She clearly believes that killing and evicting people who seem “modern” or “civilized” is unacceptable. Then she goes on to explain that pre-1948 Palestine was just what she says mustn’t be destroyed. “But you lived here,” says the filmmaker. “How could you not know?” The woman replies simply, “We knew. We knew.”

    A man who took part in killing Palestinians in 1948 excuses himself as having been only 19. And “there will always be new 19-year-olds,” he says. Of course there are also 50-year-olds who will follow evil orders. Happily, there are also 19-year-olds who will not.’

    Catch a screening of On the Side of the Road.

  • Clark

    Passerby, I was thinking of much more than the remains of the Windscale Piles. Most of the Sellafield site exhibits varying degrees of slow disaster. One of the worst examples is “Dirty Thirty”, a vast system of old Magnox spent fuel pools:

    the ponds were abandoned after they were overwhelmed with spent fuel during the 1974 miners’ strike when Britain was put on a three-day working week by prime minister Edward Heath

    Sellafield is costing 1.7 billion a year, just for “decommissioning”! Really, it’s a slow version of disaster management while they hope to figure out a longer-term solution; no one can hope to guess what it will eventually cost, nor to what extent it can be successfully completed. We can’t even start to assess the long term damage from Fukushima, especially with the cover-up in operation.

    Nuclear power generation needs to be phased out as quickly as possible. Solar, wind, water etc can be developed to supply enough power, but only if a great international electricity distribution grid is constructed.

  • glenn_uk

    @Rehmat : “Ordinary (potable) water boils at 212 degree F – while a nuclear reactor generate over 1300 degree F – at which the heavy water doesn’t boil.

    Ordinary water boils at 212 degrees F at _standard pressure_. Standard temperature and pressure is often sited when describing properties of a substance.

    Have you noticed that the temperature gauge of your car will indicate temperatures way in excess of this? Why doesn’t the water boil? The answer is because it’s not under standard pressure – the whole thing is a sealed, pressurised system (once it’s underway). The boiling point increases as the pressure increases, in a fairly uniform manner:

    You’d notice this fairly quickly if you released the radiator cap while it was at full temperature (not recommended).

    The reason for a PWR is that you can get a lot more heat into the water by running the whole thing under considerable pressure. That way, it pipes containing this super-heated water runs through free water that will boil, producing steam, and driving turbines. It heats this water a lot more efficiently because it is much hotter than 100C/212F.

    The trivial differences in the boiling point properties of heavy water compared with natural water is irrelevant here.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Did I passed the 10th grade dude? (Rehmat)

    No, because I didn’t go to a US/Canadian school*. We don’t call them grades here. And it seems to me that our schools teach English a good deal better….example:

    As a Canadian nuclear power-generating, who had worked on all country’s 18 nuclear reactors – I can tell your readers… (a load of old cobblers)

    This appears to imply that you have been involved, not only in the Canadian nuclear program(mme) but in 18 separate reactor installations. Is this the case? And in what capacity were you so involved? And how do your former employers feel about the abject ignorance you are so keen to display here?

    If you have to masquerade as a nuclear power expert, at least have the humility to glance at Wikipedia before opining. I mean if you had completed GCSE Physics here – tenth grade elsewhere – you wouldn’t even have to do that.

    *and neither did you, by the look of it.

  • passerby

    Clark, very true, your observations about Sellafield are valid. However let us not forget the reality that the reactors in that complex were primarily for weapons grade material production and secondarily and in fact as a by product; they contributed modestly to the electricity grid too. Hence it should come as no surprise to find such a toxic legacy that is in need of careful disposal at a huge cost.

    However to ban nuclear electricity generation could be playing into the hands of the warmongers and energy barons. The gigawatts electricity production stations expanded to even terawatts indeed can be useful and beneficial considering he damage the hydrocarbon based fuels are causing to the environment and the man alike, be it poisoning the whole planet, or wars fought for the benefit of the energy barons (pouring even more poisons onto the planet, and its inhabitants), all in the way of maintaining the costs of energy high for the benefit of injections of huge amounts of paper money and perpetuate the politics financial repression.

    As you have mentioned to extend the electricity grids across the planet, can only come about if there is available a credible source of cheap energy, and that is only the nuclear power production. However once the grid is in place then there is always the case for solar (more advanced nuclear based research)and wind methods that can gradually come on line and pave the way for redundancy of the nuclear power stations.

    The stark reality is energy barons and their hand picked charge hands and vassals in charge of the rest of us, are far too invested in the hydrocarbon fuel based transactions to even contemplate any other method of energy harvesting. This dogged determination of the oil barons can be turned into an opportunity by provision of the far cheaper nuclear power generation, paving the way for the worldwide grid that you have already mentioned.

  • Edward

    Iran is not asking for permission to develop nuclear weapons. They are simply insisting on their rights granted under the NPT treaty, which the U.S. violates.

  • Clark

    Passerby, the worst site at Sellafield is B30, and it’s a legacy of electricity generation rather than weapons production. The Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters were both the result of power generation rather than weapons production. If you search, you may find some information on the contamination at Llyn Trawsfynydd, too. The essential problem is that power generation uses many times more nuclear fuel than weapons production does, and thus produces many times more ‘waste’. Of course, it’s not really waste. It’s fuel that’s less than 2% used, the unused 98% being our radioactive disposal problem.

    I don’t think nuclear power should be banned. Neither nuclear nor fossil fuel generation could be banned without knocking a big hole in the energy budget, which would lead to much hardship and many deaths. I’m not opposed to nuclear power if it can be done cleanly and safely but typical reactors are neither, and although the latest designs look a lot less likely to suffer catastrophic failure, they still produce 2% power and 98% radioactive ‘waste’.

  • Jemand

    The bigger, long term threat to Iran might be its old foes, Sunni muslims. Pakistan, a Sunni state, has nukes. Who can assure Iran that Paki nuclear technology will not find its way to Saudi Arabia for their use against Iran? It’s a goal of Sunnis to eliminate the Shia so I am altogether unconvinced that Iran only wants nukes for reasons of political pride. Like Israel, Iran wants a security contingency provided by a game ender.

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