Nuclear Technology, Ever-Increasing Need of Today’s World; a Regional Glimpse

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Experts stress that nuclear energy is the best option for the oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf to meet their growing energy demands.

They argue that the option of using nuclear energy is more appropriate for these countries than renewable energies.

President of the Saudi Electricity Company Ali Saleh al-Barrack says renewable energies are playing only a very small part in supplying even those who started developing them a long time ago.

While Saudi Arabia is conducting research into renewable energies, al-Barrack says options such as solar and wind power are either limited or are less attractive for technical reasons.

Given the high demand for power and the population growth in the Persian Gulf region, “I think the only immediate solution is nuclear energy,” which is the best option in economic and environmental terms, he says.

He dismisses fears of environmental damage from nuclear energy as “driven by Hollywood-style fiction.”

“The danger really is from what we are doing now, by adding more and more of this fossil and coal which is destroying the environment and (causing global) warming,” he says.

Simultaneous with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s drive to use peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of international laws and the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency as a committed member and to produce energy to meet its rising demands and while considering the fact that fossil energy will deplete, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) decided in December 2006 to develop a joint nuclear technology program for peaceful uses and have been in talks with the IAEA.

The UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have since concluded bilateral nuclear cooperation deals with the United States.

The UAE, which is in the midst of an economic boom, has also signed an agreement with France to receive help to develop civilian nuclear energy.

Saudi deputy electricity minister Saleh al-Awaji stresses that while Riyadh started studying medical and industrial applications of nuclear technology two decades ago, it was now barely in the process of examining the feasibility of using it to produce power. The deputy minister told AFP that the issue is still at the stage of feasibility studies. The same goes for the PGCC (as a bloc), he said.

The UAE announced last month that it would import enriched uranium for any reactor it builds. But Awaji said other Persian Gulf states need not necessarily follow suit.

"This option (of producing nuclear energy) is still being studied. But if a decision is made to go ahead, each country would have its own circumstances in acquiring fuel sources ... within the regulations governing peaceful uses of nuclear energy," he said.

Saudi and Qatari speakers at a conference in the UAE during the current week agreed that it would be more efficient for PGCC countries to develop nuclear energy as a bloc.

"I think it's logical, but I don't think it's going to happen," Raja Kiwan, an analyst with energy advisers PFC Energy, told AFP.

Since the PGCC signaled an interest in developing civilian nuclear technology in 2006, each country seems to be pursuing its own track and talking to various suppliers, he said.

If the current pace continues, the UAE will probably be the first among the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members to produce nuclear energy, Kiwan added.

"Nuclear is probably the most tested and the most applicable source of energy for the (level) of demand growth that this region is going to be seeing over the next 20-25 years," he said.

He went on to say, "Renewable is a fairly new phenomenon in the energy world and it is primarily being led by the private sector -- the big international oil companies that are becoming a little bit greener... Renewable energy is a tiny fraction of global consumption."

The Islamic Republic of Iran has taken a long step among the Persian Gulf states in the field of deployment of peaceful nuclear technology and producing nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant and other nuclear energy power stations which are to be built in the future.

Iran who has been a committed member of the NPT and has continued its constant and transparent cooperation with IAEA, has signed an agreement with Russia on building a power plant and in this line Moscow has delivered to Tehran fuel consignments for the power station.

Despite its constant and transparent cooperation with IAEA, the Islamic Republic of Iran is still facing obstructions made by the West, the US in particular, who prevent the Iranian nation’s progress on the baseless pretexts and allegations of Tehran’s effort to acquire atomic bomb. To this end, they instrumentally use institutions such as the Security Council to push forward their hegemonic objectives and discriminatory measures.

Hegemonic powers, especially the US, have shown to the world their dual standards in their interactions with nuclear issues on the one hand by conniving the appalling arsenal of nuclear weapons of the Zionist regime, who by possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads is considered the biggest danger and threat to the regional and international security and stability; and on the other hand by creating hindrances in the face of legal efforts and measures of the Islamic Republic to attain its legitimate nuclear rights including uranium enrichment.

Although hegemonic and monopolist powers are making broad efforts to have nuclear cooperation with Arab states of the Persian Gulf and North Africa, they surely would not be ready to put their nuclear technology at the disposal of these countries and would not let them reach self-sufficiency in the nuclear field and would keep them dependent on themselves. The very factor is the root cause of broad opposition of these hegemonic and monopolist powers with the peaceful nuclear programs of Iran which has managed to move forward and progress despite all sanctions, restricting moves and widespread hindrances; that is the West does not let other world countries become independent in the nuclear energy field.


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