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West’s Double Standards vis-à-vis Iran Nuclear Issue

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dr. Alibeman Eqbali Zarech
IRI Ambassador to Albania

There are 442 nuclear power plants producing 370 thousand MW of electricity in the world today. As more and more countries are voicing their resolve to manufacture new power plants and a growing number of countries are using nuclear energy, opposition to Iran’s peaceful nuclear activity shows the West’s double standards in dealing with IRI nuclear program. The rise in energy consumption has made world countries to opt for a bigger share in nuclear energy in meeting their electricity demands. This paper will cast a look at the efforts of world countries to build more nuclear power plants and their opposition to Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities.

Until the 1980s the use of nuclear energy for supply of electricity was very common. But the tragic incident at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986 which led to the death and injury of many civilians helped the Greens to relatively succeed in checking construction of nuclear power plants. However, the rising energy consumption followed by price rises and shortage of fossil energies and more importantly the irregular rise in greenhouse gases made various countries to revise their energy policies and raise the share of nuclear energy in their power supply. At present, there are about 30 new nuclear power plants under construction in the world. Everyday more and more countries are added to the list of advocates of nuclear energy.

Among world nations, the energy consumption in Asia is the most unorthodox. Out of the 29 nuclear power plants being built 15 are located in Asia with the biggest rise in consumption going to China and India. At present, only 3 percent of energy consumption in India comes from nuclear section and New Delhi intends to raise the figure to 10 percent by 2022 and 26 percent by 2052.

China too is going ahead by building four new reactors and has announced tenders for new power plants. Europe also is experiencing a new renaissance in using nuclear energy. France which meets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants will commission a new reactor in Flammanville in Normandy region within the next few years. Bulgaria has announced a tender to build a nuclear power plant in Belene. Romania and Slovakia too are working to build new power plants. Slovakia plans to get help from Italy for building two new power plants in Mochovche which will raise the number to four (two were built in 1980s).

Belarus intends to join the club of nuclear countries. The president of Belarus says construction of a new power plant will start in 2009. Romania is already benefiting from two power plants with CANDU reactor technology of Canada in Cernavoda and is trying to build another one.

Competition to reap the benefits of nuclear energy in Europe is very serious. Slovenia which imports 53 percent of its needed electricity has recently announced its energy strategy till 2023. According to the plan, use of nuclear energy and construction of a power plant in Kresko is on the agenda. Italy is also trying to acquire nuclear energy. Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi says the country’s energy policy must be revised because the cost of power production in Italy is 20-30 percent more than other countries. Italy is the biggest electric energy importer in the world with 40,000 Megabytes.

More important than what was cited above, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after more than three decades of activity for the first time in November 2006 urged world nations to place construction of nuclear power plants on their agenda in the shortest time possible. It said although there are differing outlooks on the issue but the rising trend of energy consumption makes the use of nuclear energy imperative.  

Fatih Birol, chief economist with IAEA believes the time has come for building new nuclear power plants. “We need a decision almost tomorrow if we are going to act before we reach a point of no return in climate and security of supply,” Birol said. Moreover, the IAEA is convinced that nuclear energy is in competition with production cost of fossil energy and that there are sufficient uranium resources in the world. The IAEA forecasts an investment of 71,000 billion dollars in energy production sector by 2030. The UN agency believes that the progresses made in power plant security section would reduce environmental concerns and construction of new power plants would have lesser costs.

Recommendations to use nuclear energy in Europe are not limited to IAEA. The European Commission too has urged EU member states to launch studies on more expansive use of nuclear energy in order to reduce their dependence on oil and gas and meet their energy security.

The European Commission also recommends that nuclear energy is a good alternative to counter global warming. More interestingly, after the IAEA and the European Commission, the European Parliament too has entered the field and called on the member states to develop construction of nuclear power plants. A resolution on this specialized field has also been adopted by the European Parliament, particularly the German MPs with majority vote.

In Central Europe, only Poland and Austria are not benefiting from nuclear power plants at present. However, Poland has plans to commission a nuclear plant by 2023. All evidences indicate that the process of energy supply is moving in the direction of a bigger role for nuclear energy in electricity supply. In the studies conducted by the European Parliament, it has been acknowledged that in 2020 the cost of electricity production from coal would be twice its cost from nuclear energy.

Russia which is a superior power in building nuclear power plants has seven plants under construction in addition to 31 plants already in place. The Russians also maintain an active presence in foreign markets and are involved in tough competition with Western companies to win tenders for construction of nuclear power plants. In 2006, Russia in a competition with Western companies, including American Westinghouse, won a tender to build a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. The winner company is the same in charge of building Bushehr Power Plant in Iran, the construction of which has raised eyebrows in certain countries and reminds one of the double standard policies more than anything else.

Interestingly enough, the countries which are making the most advantage of nuclear energy are most unhappy with Iran’s nuclear program. In the meantime, due to their interactions with the civilization-building Iranian nation they are well aware that the people of Iran are merely seeking peaceful use of nuclear energy. The entire world knows that ever since the outbreak of modern technology the Iranian nation has shown the highest degree of love for human kind and peace. The peak of this peace loving approach was witnessed in the course of the Iraqi imposed war (1980-88) when Iranian cities were subjected to enemy missile attacks but Iran never retaliated by bombing cities and residential quarters.

The United States too is a big nuclear power. There are more than 103 active nuclear power plants in the US which account for ¼ of the total nuclear plants in the world. Although the US has slowed down the policy of nuclear power plant construction but Westinghouse Company has recently offered a new 1000 MW reactor which it intends to benefit the most in competition at foreign markets. It is also to be noted that many of the American power plants are worn out and need to be replaced. This would cover 30 reactors in a near future.

At any rate, there are more than 442 nuclear power plants in the world today which produce 370,000 MW of electricity. This is while the biggest thermal power plant in Poland produces just 4,000 MW of electricity. Construction of new power plants is inevitable and no one can avoid this. Governments are turning to nuclear energy for several reasons, including price rise, environmental repercussions, and declining fossil resources. The use of nuclear energy by all countries, including Iran to produce electricity is in line with regulations of the IAEA and is a normal and logical procedure.

Source: http://www.hamshahrionline.ir/

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