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back to article Weapons, oil prices driving worldwide atom ambitions

A crush of developing nations trying to gatecrash the nuclear power club has prompted fears of a subsequent race to develop nuclear weapons. The UN nuke regulator, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), says that it has recently been approached by 40 countries, all expressing an interest in nuclear power. According to …

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Flame

Scary

The idea of that whole fucked up part of the world getting nuclear weapons is even more terrifying than giving a group of toddlers automatic rifles and rocket launchers.

That said, they'd probably just wipe each other off the map soon enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Silver lining?

This is good news for Canada and Australia (lots of Uranium to sell, far away from political hot spots), but not so good for anyone else.

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Silver badge
Pirate

Now remember, boys and girls...

If you buy drugs or pirated software or share files you're funding Terrorism, but obviously if your Government is buying Oil and Gas from barely stable regimes to feed your demand for fossil fuels, they're not funding a potential nuclear arms race!

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Anonymous Coward

Do I smell hypocricy?

Of course, the Yanks and us pet Brits won't mind Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE developing "nucular" technology because they are all friendly regimes, right?

But not the nasty Iranians, ooooh thats a no no.

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Bronze badge
Pirate

Peak Oil is Nigh

The scary thing here is not unstable crazy people getting nuclear weapons (although that is worrying)

Its the dwindling oil reserves.

slowly but surely , more and more regularly, I see the signs of an imminent oil shortage that will *never* go away , and only get worse until society collapses.

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Anonymous Coward

Oil Tipping point passed?

Where oil producing nations are involved, I wonder if this is actually about their reserves starting to dry up... After all, if they are unable to produce as much oil, they will be the first to know.

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Coat

Oh Really?

"We are concerned that some countries are moving down the nuclear [weapons] path in reaction to the Iranians," an unnamed US official told the Post.

Or rather, with the Iraq war, the United States proved that the only way to be truly secure in the modern world is to have nuclear weapons maybe?

Mines the one with the CND symbol on the back.

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Anonymous Coward

Hypocrisy?

The whole international scene is a web of different hypocricies, all so tangled now that it's impossible to tell where it all began. You can point at Israel, perhaps as a starting point, and whether you blame understandable sympathy at the fate of the Jewish people in the 30s and 40s in Europs or blame the zionist sympathies of the holders of international purse-strings...you find yourself starting further back.

The Iranian regime *are* nasty, repressive and aggressive and they got that way because of the actions of the West, arguably. Which is the greater hypocrisy: to cease to interfere (and thereby court uncontrolled nuclear proliferation) because interference in different circumstances produced undesirable results, or to interfere according to current perceptions of allegiance and danger.

Letting the Iranians see that if they just played ball (instead of playing the "Great Satan" card) they'd have working reactors and even a reprocessing industry by now might just show them that it's not their colour or their religion, but their un-neighbourly attitude that makes everyone else sneer.

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Happy

What, they don't read Dick Destiny?

Didn't anyone tell the rest of the Middle East that the Iranian "nuke weapon program" was all in the mind of that nasty Prez Bush, or the CIA, or some FBI mole just trying to make the whole of Iran into a patsy? Oh, you mean to say the locals who are a darn sight closer to the problem and understand a heck lot more about the Iranians also don't think they can be trusted with nukes? Well, paint me red with a kipper!

It's ironic that all the Arab countries cried buckets about Israel developing nukes, but it wasn't until Iran got in on the game that they all started getting worried. Says a lot about how much they rate Israelis as more reasoning than the Iranians.

And as for all the stuff about oil peaks and tipping points - there are still huge and unexploited reserves out there, especially in Alaska. I'm hoping Brazil gets a big boost to its economy from their recent oil discoveries as they seem a far more deserving bunch than most of the Middle East.

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@Anonymous Coward

'After all, if they are unable to produce as much oil, they will be the first to know.'

A good point well made. Many of the OPEC countries consistently upped their reserves throughout the 1980s and 1990s despite little exploration and very high production figures. The reason being that production quotas are allocated on reserves - the more oil you say you have, the more you can pump. Almost none of these countries allow for independent audits of their reserves - one reason why global oil reserve numbers vary so widely, so we really don't know how much oil is down there.

Three years ago, Kuwait finally admitted that it's supergiant Burgan field had peaked and was in steep decline from 2 million barrels per day to around 1.6 million today - and that was being maintained by huge injections of water. As for what is going on in Saudi Arabia, that's anyone's guess - it's probable their Ghawar field (5 million barrels per day - around 6% of global demand) has or is peaking.

Which if that's the case means there is no more spare capacity - all the leaders in the world can ask OPEC to open the taps, but they can't open them any wider. So oil will have to go up in price. Fortunately, (for the Chinese and Indians, less so for the US and the UK) the Chinese and Indians have lots of hard cash to spend on fuel imports. Money which when it isn't greasing the wheels of corruption, gives various Persian Gulf regimes all the more cash to spend on new nuclear plants and armaments.

And we can forget any other countries coming up to fill the gap. Even if the huge new Tupi field off of Brasil turned out to be as productive as hoped, it would only ever supply 110 *DAYS* of the current global demand for oil (just under 30 billion barrels a year).

Fancy a spot of depressing reading? Matthew Simmons, 'Twilight in the Desert' will have you checking property prices in Idaho.

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Anonymous Coward

M.A.D.

Mutualty assured destruction is all well and good until you have an enemy that believes destroying itself to destroy the enemy is an acceptable solution.

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Dead Vulture

@ Anonymous Coward's M.A.D.

YOU will NEVER be in politics mate... too astute, too intelligent, too accurate,... too bad.

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Prefer my disinformation direct from the WP

Lot of tasty disinformation in here. Just to take one example. "It's also been suggested by the US and Israel that Iran's ally Syria was engaged on a secret weapons programme at its Al Kibar plant, lately destroyed in a mysterious Israeli bombing raid."

In fact Israel's lips are and have been sealed on the matter of the mysterious bombing raid. And why not - with its hand up the US making its lips move on the issue, there is no need to crank the heat up further. Cooking its goose is not to be hurried, it will only end up raw in the core. Not there was any nuclear core, as it happened - had there been, the release of radioactivity would have been detected.

And why shouldn't so many countries be interested in nuclear power when the price of oil is so high, it cannot be paid for in anything other than dollars, and when the Fed is inflating its currency so that by the month the dollar reserves they have to pay for it are worth less? It is a matter of simple economics. That it can be viewed otherwise testifies to the disinformation campaign - people will believe the "truth" they hear and read most often repeated.

Has the Vulture got bored with biting the hand that IT feeds, that it would rather suck its grubby fingers?

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why increase oil production?

When oil prices are so high and you're already selling a gazillion barrels, a day, why up production and let the price fall? The only incentive is for new entrants. Even then, if a new entrant was to think oil prices could go down at all significantly, he's not likely to be willing to risk the outlay on the exploration and either.

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@ John

'When oil prices are so high and you're already selling a gazillion barrels, a day, why up production and let the price fall? '

OPEC and other petroleum producers are trying to play a clever game. In 1973/74 OPEC responded to Israel's victory over the Arabs by imposing an oil blockade on most of the West. The result was spiralling prices - up 400% in a year. The result was a short-term propaganda victory, followed by a Western recession, a nuclear power - errrr - boom, imposition of the 55mph limit on American freeways and Detroit's first small (relatively) cars. High oil prices also meant it was economic to develop deep water fields in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, which greatly reduced Western reliance on Arab oil.

Oil prices fell for the remainder of the 1970s as did the revenues to producer states. They spiked again with the Iranian Revolution and drove yet another wave of energy efficiencies in consumers and further exploration in remote areas. The end result was falling prices during which OPEC countries opened the taps to try and grab as much market share as possible - beggaring their neighbours in the process. The 1980s and early 1990s saw the World awash in cheap crude and many OPEC states reduced to basket cases with huge foreign debts.

OPEC has always tried to maintain prices in an area where they maximise incomes without provoking consumers to develop alternative energy supplies. Through the 1970s they were hugely concerned that the US would be able to develop shale oil from Colorado if oil hit $50ppb, so the target was always oil at $30ppb. In the end shale oil was an illusion - there simply isn't enough water out West to make it, but the threat was enough to drive policy.

However, this policy has come unstuck because rising demand is pushing up prices even as OPEC and non-OPEC countries announce they are hitting peak production. They can't open the taps any wider to pour more oil into the market, so the prices keep going up.

But the producers might still come out on top. With no obvious alternatives to oil, we'll keep passing our money to the Persian Gulf so they can buy our businesses. Abu Dhabi is sitting on a sovereign wealth fund equivalent to $1 million per person, and they're on a spending spree right now, with the rest of the Gulf hot on their heels. If you're in the US, it gets even worse, because the money to buy the oil is borrowed from China and has to be paid back at some time in the future.

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@why increase oil production

Traditionally oil production have been kept up to keep USA dependant on oil. If the production were too low and prices too high they would have devoleped cars that could go more than a mile per gallon(or just drove Eropean or Asian cars). Also alternate sources of energy like sun and wind energy has a much greater potential, but it requires much more devolopment. High prices would be an incentive to devolope the technology needed. Which is what's happening now, regardless of the current climate fuzz.

Sidenote: If the nations around the gulf do get nuclear weapons and one of them have a revolution and the new leader shouts "JIHAD!!!", and for a brief period we have nuclear suicide bombers and missiles walking/flying everywhere down there. Given that the region will be a wasteland after that, and no more oil can be pumped up, can that be the solution to the CO2-emission problems?

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Anonymous Coward

We want them to have nukes

We need the oil, if they're burning 50% of the oil to extract/process the other 50% for sale, they can double their oil output if they switch to nuclear power.

As for being a scary part of the world, they use to say that about Libya before settling with them. A lot of that bollocks is because Israel wants Iran attacked to keep it's dominant military position in the region, and USA right wingers want their assets priced in US$ to continue their free ride on the world economy a little longer.

There certainly is one country in that region that consistently attacks, bombs, invades, runs covert ops against it's neighbours..... but then again Israel also pumps a lot of money via business and PACs into the USA political system.

Which is why you get this McCain Lieberman thing and the 'bomb Iran' comments:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0308/9171.html

And the Clinton thing (see her PAC contributions to understand why)

http://www.brianarner.com/weblog/archives/002332.html

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Nice way to talk about a reliable supplier who hasn't invaded anyone. More to the point, their decision to shift away from US$ is sound economics, Iran has no duty to prop up the US economy after Bush has run it into the ground and their shift into Euros helps Europe grow.

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Let's also take a quick note here...

This push is actually a good thing--if we removed such needs, we can sustain the oil float further. (Yes, oil float--where do you think the plastic that makes up your Coke bottle comes from? It isn't always recycled.)

The tricky bit is how to manage nuclear power--we don't need goverment burro-craticies running them, IMO. Civilian power, dedicated ONLY to civilians, is idea, since you can do a good market drive simply accepting enriched fuel from, say Australia (which, admitidely, isn't a real world power in the sense that USA is one.) Fissile material can only come in really low amounts if some nutjob wants to play "Bomb the Embassy," which would only put out, hurmm... a block or so? of property damage/body counts. That's actually a low enough risk to begin with, and we know dirty bombs aren't as big a factor as some people scream about. Too many variable.

In conclusion, I'm all for it--just put some REAL good independent oversight on the systems!

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Pirate

Re: M.A.D.

To use my Dad's "AGW is bunk" argument:

since I'm still dead in 150 years, why should I care about nuclear destruction?

Besides, I've played Fallout, I know how to survive.

Make your time!

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almost forgot about this

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/personal-nukes/toshiba-builds-personal+sized-micro-nuclear-reactor-huh-335312.php

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here

to remember the NPT......

The NPT is now a Norwegian Blue.

In reality it was rendered so when the current round of nuclear re-equipping came round (new Russian & Chinese ICBM & SSBN, US & UK steady re-equipping etc.etc.) along with comments from all parties implying that disarmament would be lovely but is not practical.

So.....once the "official" nuclear powers basically declared that nuclear disarmament was not going to happen then....time to tool up & the more that tool up...the less practical disarmament becomes.

Adam

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Paris Hilton

Welkome

Welkome to the 250,000 year or 8,350 generation resultant pollution problem that has yet to be resolved successfully or to put in another way some 568 square miles of closed and uninhabitable state land with the same time frame in a place called Hanford , Washington State , in the land of the paranoid and very insecure wangs armed with 5,000 "Oppenheimer's Toys"

Sting summed it up neatly in his song "The Russians" thus :

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy

There is no monopoly in common sense

On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

There is no historical precedent

To put the words in the mouth of the President

There's no such thing as a winnable war

It's a lie that we don't believe anymore

Oh well it's time to go back to dodging those pesky cars and bikes whilst crossing the road on a pedestrian crossing with a green walk sign !

Although I believe the law of averages estimates to the ripe old age of 79.2 years old , I have one chance in seven of dying from any type of cancer and a one chance in eighty of being killed by a car (1.2 million killed annually with 20 million injured at least and we take this deadly weapon for granted but quantified by "Smeed's Law").

Some things can be more fatal then being afraid of that which is totally hypothetical claptrap as expressed daily for self interest reasons only when you look behind the tissue thin surface veneer by our mostly drunk on the job politicians with their heads stuffed in the pig feeding trough with greedy sticky hands held for more then they are legally entitled too and is not self evident in real life in a real world , numbers are such nice play toys are they not ?

Every one plays the numbers game !

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Boffin

things from oil

Whilst the "plastic for your Coke bottle" is indeed a valid product derived from oil, let us not forget more significant products that cannot be made in any way other than by using fractions of naturally occuring hydrocarbon deposits:

Almost all pharmaceuticals (check the ingredients), many popular pain killers, road surfaces and synthetic rubber, water resistant wallpaper, lightweight enclosures (for white goods, computers, etc etc), fertilizer, pesticides, fuels (obviously) and candles, nylon .... No amount of uNclear power will ever provide those materials, except possibly on a temporary basis as matter realigns itself within the infernos of all out global uNclear war.

In schools for decades, chemistry has been split into two main topics, organic (that which has carbon in it) and inorganic (the other half).

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