September 26, 2007

Nuclear Proliferation: Warranted or Unwarranted Fear?

This week I decided to explore the web and see what bloggers were talking about in terms of international relations and peace and conflict issues. For obvious reasons, there are quite a few blogs out there dealing with the current problems in Darfur, Congo, and Iraq. However, I decided to investigate an equally important and often ignored topic of nuclear weapons proliferation. While many agree that nuclear weapons should be eradicated, many have stated the importance of nuclear power in developing states. It would provide that state with clean and reliable energy that is less damaging to the environment than coal or fossil fuels. Those strongly opposed to nuclear proliferation argue that by allowing states to build nuclear reactors it also gives them the opportunity to develop nuclear armaments. In the first blog that I encountered “A New NPT” by University of Louisville Political Science Professor, Roger A. Payne, he describes a way to close the nuclear proliferation treaty loophole and would allow states to develop nuclear power plants as long as they agreed to turn over nuclear fuel for reprocessing. This would allow states to build nuclear power plants but it would also prevent states from using the reactors for any other purpose besides peaceful energy production. The second blog I encountered was from a rather different perspective. “France Floats European Nuclear Deterrent” by Monash University PhD student, Marko Beljac, states that France has petitioned Germany to join them in a Franco German nuclear force. German Chancellor Merkel respectfully declined the offer seeing how a nuclear program is considered a bit taboo in Europe. French President Sarkozy, on the other hand, believes that a strong nuclear Europe would give European states more freedom of action in international affairs. Both of these blogs were interesting and thought provoking, which inevitably led me to ask a good deal of questions and truly examine the viability of their proposals and opinions.

I enjoyed reading your blog; I found it interesting and provocative. The NPT has always been a hot topic in the realm of international relations/global politics. As I read your post I was both excited and apprehensive of the new direction the United States is taking towards promoting and encouraging the use of nuclear energy. My positive feelings toward the topic: United States leadership is much needed on this topic and developing countries need to have a clean and reliable power source to fuel development. Especially in countries such as Kazakhstan, Ghana, Slovenia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Romania, etc; minimizing ecological damage is of the utmost importance. In most developing countries such as China 10 years ago, development was detrimental to the environment and it has proved difficult breaking their oil and coal addiction. If the GNEP can be successful with providing nuclear energy to developing states, they could very well become models for other states in their region. What I find disturbing is the possible impact on geo-politics. States who’s GNP relies heavily on oil exports, may suffer an economical blow due to the dip in demand. To be honest, I was surprised that Kazakhstan, a sate whose economy is in part dependant on oil, would be willing to join the GNEP. Besides the obvious political clashes, I am also concerned with the logistical side of the issue. The fuel that is to be recycled has a potential to be used to make “atomic arms”, given that fact, are the routes for transporting this material be protected? In addition to this, which state is going to supply this security?

I found your topic to be an interesting one. Never, on any occasion, would I consider France to be a major nuclear power house. I am aware of their extensive nuclear power program and their overall condemnation of American weapons stockpiles, but I had no idea that the French would ever want to openly engage in increasing their nuclear arsenal. President Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Kouchner, claim that this increase in nuclear power would give Europe or the EU “greater freedom of action in international affairs”. I have difficulty understanding the rationale behind this theory. If the EU has failed to form a European Security Defense Force, which has been in the works for at least four years, why would they band together under a French nuclear umbrella program? In addition to that as a member of the UN Security Council and NATO, I don’t understand why the French would want to develop nuclear weapons. WWI, WWII, Vietnam, etc have all been instances in which the allies have banded together to support each other in a conflict. I suppose where most of my confusion is coming from is the fact that France has berated the United States for their lackluster disarmament program and yet have decided to proceed with their own armament program. Overall, I found your arguments intriguing and thought provoking. You supported your evidence with links and hypertexts which were added to your post in an aesthetically pleasing manner. I would, however have liked to hear more about the potentially destabilizing effect this weapons program would have on the world and whether or not it would promote neo-colonialism.

1 comment:

AAD said...

First off, let me commend you on your addressing such an integral issue. As an IR major, and political follower I was wholeheartedly interested in your comments. I noticed in your introductory paragraph your second paragraph used some informal language. You said "there are quite a few blogs out there dealing with the current problems in Darfur, Congo, and Iraq" when you could have maybe said: for reasons well known, many bloggers have chosen to discuss the undeniably important dilemmas in Darfur, the Congo and Iraq. On the other hand, I think you introduce your posts, and the authors of your post very effectively which gives your comments more validity. When you mention German Chancellor "Merkel" you should probably refer to her as Angela Merkel to both familiarize your readers in case they are unaware she is a woman which is of great consequence (especially in context of your blog). Also, instead of, after your first paragraph, just jumping into your comments, I would maybe separate them with the name of the blog you commented on, and with the word "comment:". This allows your readers to more clearly understand that this is not simply a continuation of your first paragraph but rather, your comments to the exterior blog. To that note, I would maybe include a sentence in your first paragraph letting the readers know that your comments here are merely there in case of technical difficulties. As far as your posts go, I think they are really well written and show a breadth of knowledge about the subject at hand. I would however, in your first comment change the sentence which begins with "My positive feelings toward the topic:". This format feels rather list-like.

I think your questioning France's ability to be a "nuclear power house" as you put it is very effective. It not only engages the author of the post but it makes the reader of your comments question it as well. Also, your bringing in historical examples such as WWI, WWII and Vietnam effectivley supports your argument. Moreover, the two blogs you posted on seem very credible and as such were well chosen. Lastly, I would make note of what your graphics represent in your paragraphs. It might help the reader to understand, especially when dealing with such a heavy and complex topic. It was lovely to read!

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