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Unending race for nuclear weapon and the new iaea report


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Unending race for nuclear weapon and the new iaea report

  1. 1. UNENDING RACE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THE NEW IAEA REPORT Keshav Prasad BhattaraiWhen the World War II ended with the dropping of Atomic bomb - James Agee - in TIMEmagazine on August 20,1945 - made a historical comment that “. . . in the echoes of an enormousevent – an event so much more enormous that, relative to it, the war itself shrank to minorsignificance.” The greatest path breaking event in the history of war was based on the discovery of Germanphysicist Otto Hahn, who in 1938 claimed that - vast amount of energy, could be released at notime, if the atoms of uranium or plutonium could be split in a chain reaction. He also concludedthat if such energy is used in a weapon it could be much more powerful than the most powerfulconventional weapon. But it was not Germany but the team U.S. scientist led by RobertOppenheimer of the German origin - working under a clandestine Manhattan Project headed byBrigadier General Leslie Groves - that successfully test fired the world‟ first nuclear weapon inthe desert of New Mexico in July 16,1945. This was immediately followed by the nuclear attack inHiroshima and Nagasaki only next month brought the World War II to an end.When Denmark was occupied by Nazi forces, Niel Bohr- a Danish Noble Laureate in Physics(1922), had escaped to Britain and from there to USA and was associated with ManhattanProject. He earlier had personally urged U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British PrimeMinister Winston Churchill to prepare for the atomic weapon.But on July 3, 1944 - in a memorandum to President Roosevelt, Bohr appealed “that a weapon of anunparalleled power is being created which will completely change all future conditions of warfare”.Referring to Bohr the author of a globally acclaimed book – “The Making of the Atom Bomb” RichardRhodes mentions that “When nuclear weapons spread to other countries as they certainly would, no onewould be able any longer to win. That would obviously “bring an enormous change in the situation of theworld, in the whole situation of war and the tolerability of war”.Therefore, Bohr argued that unless, some agreement about the control of the use of the nuclear power isreached “any temporary advantage, however great, may be outweighed by a perpetual menace to humansecurity”.Similarly, in his open letter to United Nations on June 9, 1950 Bohr predicted that nuclear power in thelong run will become the enormous sources of energy that would revolutionize industry and transport, but ifa weapon is made with this energy it will contain an unparalleled power which will completely change allfuture conditions of warfare posing continued threat to world security – as a formidable means ofdestruction.And as Bohr anticipated the nuclear arms race continued and got more intense. In September 1949 USSRattained it- followed by UK in 1952, France in 1960, China in 1964, Israel in 1969, India in 1974, Pakistan in1984, and North Korea in 2006.
  2. 2. IAEA REPORT AND ROW OVER IRANIAN WEAPON PROGRAMU.S. President Barrack Obama, at a press conference held at the close of the Asia-Pacific EconomicCooperation summit in Hawaii on November 13, admitted that Russian President Medvedev, as well as China‟sPresident Hu Jintao entirely agreed with him to make “sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power andthat we don‟t trigger a nuclear arms race in the region . . . in the interests of all of us”. Obama was makingreference to the commitments made by Russia and China on the light of the report released byInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the Vienna based UN body created to facilitate the peacefuluse of nuclear energy and make a regular safeguard auditing of the nuclear facilities. The UN nuclear watchdog in its report released on November 8, has asserted that Iran has attained explosive nuclear weaponsspecific ability.Further President Obama elaborated that Iran‟s weapon capability will trigger a nuclear arms race in theregion posing a security threat to the region, U.S. and its allies world wide as well. He explicitly warnedthat no options against Iran “are off the table”. Subsequently, foreign ministers of European Unionassembled in Brussels also discussed on various measures from toughened economic sanctions to militaryactions against Iran.Amidst the IAEA‟s report and speculations about possible actions against Iran, its leaders including theSupreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad not only rejected theIAEA‟s report as baseless, they also threatened that Iran will firmly respond any such actions with ironfists.According to the official Russian news agency - RIA Novosti, (November 9, 2011) Russian Foreign Ministrylashed out the IAEA‟s report calling it twisted with a political slant and undermining the “internationaleffort to defuse tensions around the Islamic Republic‟s nuclear program and hold it guilty without a cause”.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had also said that the increasing anti-Iranian rhetoric could lead to acatastrophe in the Middle East.Ironically, the history of Iranian Nuclear power history dates back to the signing of an agreement betweenU.S. and Iran on March 5, 1957 under the auspices of the President Dwight D. Eisenhower‟s policy of“Atoms for Peace Program”. Two years later in 1959 following the order of Reza Shah Pahlavi, a nuclearresearch center at Teharan University was established. Later in the late 1960s and in the beginning of1970s U.S. and her allies were engaged in development of nuclear facility in Iran.When the Islamic revolution swept Iran in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini - claimed nuclear weapons as un-Islamic and all the nuclear activities were suspended. But from December 1981 Iran continued its nuclearactivities and there were revelations that significant deposits of uranium ore were discovered in severallocations of Iran.Later with the cooperation of Pakistan and North Korea it was continued even after the bombings of two ofits nuclear plants during its war with Iraq in March 1984.WILL THE HISTORY OF AIR STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ AND SYRIA BE REPEATED WITH IRAN?Six days earlier to the publication of IAEA report, an article written by Jackson Diehl in The WashingtonPost created chilling tremors around the world when it referred to a column in one of the Israel‟s best
  3. 3. read newspaper „ Yediot Ahronot‟ by renowned journalist - Nahun Barena . According to Diehl the mainpoints Barena raised in his article “Atomic Pressure “was that the Israeli Prime Minister BenjaminNetanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak were determined for an attack on Iran.According to a leading Israeli daily „Haaretz‟ Netanyahu in his recent address to „Knesset‟ - warned that if agrowing regional power like Iran continues its efforts to attain nuclear weapon capability that woulddirectly pose the grave threat to the security of Israel following to Middle East and the entire world aswell. Defense minister Barak did not rule out the possibility that Israel would launch a military attack onIrans nuclear facilities. Media sources have also reported that some Israeli ministers are favoring forrestraints and pleading for American or any other move against Iran to an Israeli one.Probably, Netanyahu and Barak want to repeat similar surprise attack on Iranian Nuclear power plants astheir predecessors - Menachem Begin and Ezer Weizman had made in June 1981 and destroyed a French-built “Tammuz” nuclear reactor in Iraq. This was the world‟s first air strike against a nuclear plant. Israelhad claimed that the plant - located 18 miles south of Baghdad – was designed to make nuclear weapon todestroy Israel.Similarly Israel had also destroyed a nearly completed Syrian nuclear reactor near al – Kibar onSeptember 6, 2007 - built clandestinely with North Korean assistance.When Israel attacked Tammuz nuclear plant in Iraq, it was nearing completion and was not stored withnuclear fuel, so carried no danger to nuclear leaks and radiation. The plant was mainly located at a placewith a small supporting facility to some distance.But in case of Iran the case appears not so easy. They are mainly located at least in five different places –running through a long north to south corridor extending from Caspian Sea to Persian Gulf. Iran has alsobuilt some of its nuclear facility hidden underground in Qom – a major Shiite pilgrimage site and theheadquarters of the Iranian religious leaders running the country.Therefore, any Iraqi model single air attack cannot help Israel achieve its goal. It needs similar kind ofsurprise attacks at all locations with capacity even to destroy facility buried underground, something thatis immune from conventional air strikes.Obviously, Iranian acquisition of atomic bombs would put pressure on other countries in the region placed insimilar position. Many Arab countries believe that it is unfair that Israel has nuclear weapons. If Arabcountries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and possibly Syria, found them caught between a nuclear-armed Israeland Iran, they may feel pressurized to pursue their own nuclear options which will result in an enhancedregional arms race with all its consequences including destabilization of the whole region – vital for globaloil supply and security. kpbnepal@gmail.comThe Reporter (Weekly) November 21-27,