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Nuclear power in the Middle East – for nuclear weapons?

Perhaps nuclear power plants have become the new status symbols for developing nations, the modern equivalent of new steel mills so prized by developing nations after World War II. Or perhaps something more sinister is afoot.

“Why do you have a nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf? Because you want to have some kind of nuclear (weapons) contingency capability.”

Nuclear Power’s Resurgence In The Middle East, Oil Price.com, 

To begin the process the Saudis will soon solicit bids for two reactors. We expect bids for these initial projects from at least five national consortia: South Korean, French, Russian, Chinese and American (Westinghouse).

In order for American firms to submit bids or these projects, the U.S. would have to amend its policy that prohibits export of technology for enrichment and reprocessing of uranium.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Hasham Yamani, head of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, stated at a recent conference that his nation intended to become entirely self-sufficient with respect to the production and enrichment of uranium. ..

In the United Arab Emirates, the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power station is slated to soon enter commercial operation. These 4 APR 1400 units are being constructed by South Korea’s KEPCO at an estimated cost of $30 billion. But unlike the Saudis, officials in the UAE expressed no interest in uranium mining and reprocessing, services the plant’s builder is typically only too happy to provide.

Another four reactor project was announced in Egypt. The El Dabaa Nuclear Power Project will host four Russian-designed VVER 1200 reactors. This project is also projected to cost $30 billion and is 85 percent financed by the vendor, Rosatom.

The Iranians also have a Russian-design 1 GW nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power station. Interestingly, this unit began its life as a Siemens-designed unit whose construction was terminated due to the 1979 revolution in Iran. Eventually Russians engineers took over and completed the plant…..

Iran and the U.S. have recently differed over Iran’s uranium enrichment and reprocessing efforts particularly at the Natanz facility. The U.S. appears eager to find the Iranians in violation of nuclear fuel reprocessing constraints signed under the Obama administration. Whether this will become a pretext for further escalation by the Trump administration remains to be seen…..

This present enthusiasm for nuclear power, though, does raise questions. These plants may not be competitive with alternative power sources unless the builders finance and subsidize them. This seems to be the strategy pursued by both China and Russia.

It is also unlikely, given the relatively long lead times for construction, to resolve existing electricity shortages that hamper economic growth. Perhaps nuclear power plants have become the new status symbols for developing nations, the modern equivalent of new steel mills so prized by developing nations after World War II. Or perhaps something more sinister is afoot.

Let us give the last word to highly respected Middle East energy and security analyst, Anthony Cordesman, currently of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies: “There’s no question. Why do you have a nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf? Because you want to have some kind of nuclear (weapons) contingency capability.” He sounds skeptical that it’s all about atoms for peace.

You can find Leonard Hyman’s lastest book ‘Electricity Acts’ on Amazon

By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles  https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Nuclear-Powers-Resurgence-In-The-Middle-East.html

 

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December 20, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, marketing of nuclear, MIDDLE EAST, weapons and war

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