Saturday, March 24, 2007

Monitored Enrichment

I'm not a huge fan of nuclear energy but recognize the technology is likely to stay with us, and could be less polluting than coal in some ways, once you factor in the scarring, although uranium mines can be ugly too.

Iranian consortia are well positioned to lead in enrichment, a vital step in the commercial supply chain, provided there's sufficient transparency, given their relatively clean track record thus far. Civilian fuel providers will contract with Iranian refineries for ready-to-install non-weapons-grade materials.

Given an historic insistence on secrecy coupled with a policy of first use, LAWCAP is in no position to be lecturing on the need for transparency in monitoring. Likewise, until the Grunch resolves its voting machine problems, it should maybe just shut up (in the Bill O'Reilly sense) about "exporting democracy." There's only so much hypocrisy an intelligent reader can bear.

Those fearing competition in a lucrative sector face an uphill battle keeping the Iranians from breaking in to the business. USA-based flagships could remain competitive however, if complying with the same IAEA-style transparency guidelines as everyone else. Competition will help keep prices down and should be encouraged by the WTO.

Any traffic aimed at nuclear weapons manufacture is equally criminal in every nook and cranny of the globe. That's easy to understand and therefore relatively easy to enforce.