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The Arabs of the 21st century

Here's an idea I read that I hadn't heard before a few weeks ago, but thought was interesting.

It was described in the New Yorker a few weeks ago by a British scientist who has been accused of (but never really gotten in trouble for) assisting Iran in nuclear weapons development.

Paraphrasing from memory, he described the nuclear-armed countries (USA, Israel, Pakistan, France, yadayadayada) as using nonproliferation as a red herring.

The real goal is for them to be the sole providers of nuclear power - after the coming "long emergency" when oil reserves are depleted to the point of it no longer being cost-effective to mine it. When that happens, the world will have to switch to a nuclear energy based economy, and the current nuclear club will reap the benefits. He used the phrase "Arabs of the 21st century."

A few days after I read this I was talking to a girl whose father was a in-the-process-of-retiring oil company executive, and while we were on the topic of intragenerational political differences (he's more conservative than she is), I ran this idea by her. She said that that was exactly what her dad believed. So now whenever I hear of a proposal to "do something" before one country or another can develop the bomb, I think there may be a subtext of energy company executives scheming to advance a future advantage in a gazillion dollar (or euro/ yen/ whatever) industry.


At 5:13 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The only barriers to entering legit, open nuclear programs are time. The engineering is known by so many actors, that you can't suppress it.

The ramp-up time is probably smaller than the ramp-down time for oil.

That doesn't make much sense.

How about a bit of occam's razor: the reason the west is concerned about dictatorships acquiring nuclear weapons is that those dictatorships have said repeatedly they want to use them on westen nations.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

The two motives aren't mutually exclusive by any means, and I think nonproliferation is important. Furthermore, as stated above, it's just a perspective that was new to me, and it may be a motivator for very few or even zero political figures, or maybe more... in any case, I found it interesting.

How about this as a small data point in favor of the argument that the nuclear club wants the energy technology to remain exclusive, though:

The history of western inaction re: Soviet nuclear warheads versus as compared to the intense scrutiny paid toward centrifuge etc. development in mideastern nations and North Korea (whether real or imagined). Seems we devote fewer resources to terrorists wanting to buy warheads for one-time use than to state actors developing the means of production for themselves.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

"Seems we devote fewer resources to terrorists wanting to buy warheads for one-time use than to state actors developing the means of production for themselves."

terrorists can't build nukes, so you try the stop the state actors that count.

that is such an obvious reason why N.Korea, Pakistan, and Iran are important, I'm surprised you even bring it up. Note India should be on that list. I disagree with our forgoing non-proliferation with India.


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