Monday, February 26, 2018

The Thin Line Between Nukes for Energy and Nukes for War.

On February 25th, The New York Times published an article discussing Saudi Arabia and its current path towards acquiring nuclear capabilities. After Israel took the gold medal for being the first in the Middle East to acquire the big daddy of bombs (supposedly crossing that finish line in December of 1966), the nation who seemed like they would unfortunately be taking the silver medal for nuclear capabilities was Iran. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your thoughts on it), the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015 underneath the Obama Administration came into existence.

If you liked the sound of the JCPOA and thought that it was another wonderful accomplishment by the Obama Administration in bringing the world one step closer to a peaceful utopia, then the idea of Saudi Arabia getting nuclear capabilities for energy generation should also be agreeable; this is only true if the US gets involved with them versus Russia or China. If you didn't like the JCPOA and thought it wasn't worth the paper it was written on, then this future of Saudi Arabia having this technology may makes you consider buying a shipping container, renting a backhoe, and building your own fallout bunker in the woods of Montana, complete with Ron Paul Approved Freeze Dried Rations.

This agreement, if anything comes from it, is not close to being finalized. The comparison between the JCPOA and creating a deal with the Saudis is not a perfect, synonymous match, but the core issue is the same: dealing with nuclear proliferation in one of the most unstable and violent areas in the world. Most if not all would agree that nuclear proliferation is bad, and no one wants to see another arms race like during the Cold War. However, unless we have people sell their cars for bikes and use whale oil instead of electricity in our homes, the future of carbon free energy relies a lot on nuclear power. Short of some miracle, huge technological breakthrough, or finding more dinosaurs to kill to turn into gas, fossil fuels are a finite resource, and it is only a matter of time before more and more developing nations want to make the switch to nuclear power-why should a nation not be able to pursue a way to provide its citizens with cheap, effective, safe, and carbon free power?

This is a reality that leading forces in the world will have to face, accept, and deal with. As Iran and now Saudi Arabia are showing, it is not an issue that will be met with complete agreement for any party involved. The question of how to balance the safety of the world from nuclear war and allowing nations to develop safe and useful sources of nuclear energy is a tough one to figure out.

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