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Nuclear Tech Race Is On In Middle East 352

Posted by Zonk
from the winner-could-also-be-the-loser dept.
CaroKann writes "The TimesOnline is reporting that six Middle Eastern nations have announced interest in developing nuclear technology. The nations involved are Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Middle East Economic Digest states that most of these nations are interested in developing nuclear technology for the purpose of powering desalination plants. However, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggests that the sudden interest in nuclear technology is driven by the desire of the six nations to create a 'security hedge' in response to Iran's recent nuclear development program."
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Nuclear Tech Race Is On In Middle East

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  • Ho hum (Score:2, Insightful)

    Worry me when they're threatening to use them.
    • Plan ahead (Score:3, Informative)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      Iran has nuclear capable missles that can hit all of the middle east and most of Europe. The time to plan is not when they announce and show their nukes, but when you can influence them. Sadly, that time was a couple of years ago. We decided to invade a nation for its oil rather than worrying about the security of all the nations. At this time, I would count on the fact that the entire middle east will have nuclear missles within 15 years. Lets hope that W. (or the dems) do not kill the ABL (anti-ballistic
      • by daeg (828071)
        Lasers do no good if we end up killing off all of the sharks in the oceans. If sharks fail, we can try some mutated sea bass.
      • someone else is spending a couple of hundred on lead to line a shipping container headed for the port of baltimore. remember, the most complicated technology that enabled 9/11 was box cutters. a lot of people look to technology to provide them with security for problems which are essentially nontechnological in nature. in other words, your lasers are useless and a waste of time and you are looking for your security solutions in the wrong place
    • People already ~are~ threatening to use them.

      Various terrorists, including Bin Laden, have threatened to kill millions of Americans.

      The threat isn't that North Korea or anyone else will nuke the U.S. They're probably smarter than that.

      The real threat is that they'll sell components to terrorists who will smuggle them into the U.S. across our porous southern borders, then detonate them in a big city ala Jericho [cbs.com].

      This threat is a lot more real than any other we face, IMHO.
      • The real threat is that they'll sell components to terrorists who will smuggle them into the U.S. across our porous southern borders, then detonate them in a big city ala Jericho.

        This threat is a lot more real than any other we face, IMHO.

        I would tend to agree. It may be in the interest of everyday Americans to learn to control their government's military, assassination and anti-democratic excursions (Iraq, Iran, NK, all over south america, Vietnam, Panama, Israel/Lebanon, Afghanistan, etc, etc, et

        • Re:Ho hum (Score:5, Informative)

          by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @06:43PM (#16719569) Homepage
          I agree with you that the U.S. should think long and hard about how it is viewed in the world and why.

          However, I disagree strongly that the terrorists or their movement would ever just "go about their everyday lives".

          You need to see "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West [youtube.com]", a 2 hour or so documentary about the radical islam.

          Their hatred for us is taught to them from a very young age and is religious in nature. It will not change or go away without decades of effort. No one change will even come close. Ever. Period.

          It is simply beyond our comprehension without seeing that documentary or understanding what it demonstrates. I thought I already understood radical islam but was blown away by some of the stuff in it. And it is their words, their TV, their music, their teachings.

          • OK, how many of us went to Catholic school? Religious indoctrination at a young age is powerful, but being taught something "religious in nature" at "a very young age" doesn't turn vast numbers of people into fanatics immune to human nature. It's in the interests of some to paint radical Islam as some sort of all-powerful threat and to dehumanize Muslims, but it's not in the interest of reason, nor is it in the public interest, to believe that propaganda.
            • If you haven't seen "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West", we can't continue this discussion.

              Catholic school is not the same as being raised in an environment where you are fed this stuff 24 / 7 / 365 in every way and from every source. Not even close to the same.

          • by cheekyboy (598084)
            you tubes 10 minute limit sucks, whats a good program to automatically split one avi, into lots of 10 minute segments either
            automatically, or by placing chapter markers.
            • VirtualDub would do it easily, but not automatically.

              Google Video doesn't have that limit, though that video isn't already there so you probably couldn't put it there.

          • I will watch that video later tonight, though frankly I'm skeptical; everything you've said is inconsistent with real HUMANS that I have met from Iran, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Montreal, New York, Toronto, France and recently Iraq, who consider themselves to be Muslim. Some are Sunni, and some are Shia/Shiite, but most are quite "religions" (as in they pray several times a day, partake in Ramadan, and plan to make a pilgrimage.

            As an Atheist I find them silly sometimes, but never have I encountere

    • by houghi (78078)
      Well, one country that already has the bomb and has already used it, HAS treaten to use it again.
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      I couldn't care less if these countries had nukes, bioweapons or whatever the fuck they want to build. What I'm worried about is the terrorist retaliation attacks using those weapons on my country after the US makes up some excuse to invade them.
  • First we had the bomb
    But that was good
    Because we love peace and motherhood
    Then Russia got the bomb
    But that's okay
    The balance of power
    Is preserved that way.
    • When Alabama gets the bomb!
    • ...
      Then Iran and N.K. get the bomb and we're all screwed
      Because martyrs get 72 virgins in the nude
      ahmadinejad says he's not insane
      what about when they bombed spain?

      Kim jong il says "I want a nuclear power plant"
      Good ol GW says "No you can't"
      He says it's so we won't have to live in fear
      Don't we have a double standard here?

      We all know there were weapons in Iraq
      Blix just couldn't find them because he was wack
      He was probably over there smokin crack
      While drinking whiskey and playing blackjack

      Killing our freedoms
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jb.hl.com (782137)
        If there are any Slashdotters who could carry on those rhymes, could they please not, because reading the parent has made me lose the will to live. Thanks.
        • Kim jong il says "I want a nuclear power plant"
          Good ol GW says "No you can't"

          Umm they have a nuclear power plant, we gave them one, and have offered them more in the past.
    • by LordEd (840443)
      Then Cats set us up the bomb
      But that's okay
      The Zigs for justice
      are on their way.
    • Fear my google-fu! (Score:2, Informative)

      by weteko (1022621)
      Tom Lehrer, "Who's Next" First we got the bomb and that was good Because we love peace and motherhood Then Russia got the bomb but that's OK Because the blance of power's maintained that way Who's next? France got the bomb but don't you grieve Because they're on our side, I believe China got the bomb but have no fears Because they can't wipe us out for at least five years Who's next? Then Indonesia claimed that they Were gonna get one any day South Africa wants two, that's right One for the black and o
  • by patio11 (857072) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @04:51PM (#16718677)
    ... because its not like they have a cheap, abundant source of power anywhere.
    • by Salvance (1014001) *
      Sure, they could use oil to power EVERYTHING, but why use their only resource for power? Over the next few decades, oil will almost certainly average $60 per barrel. Saudi Arabia produces it for $10 per barrel. Producing a barrel equivalent worth of nuclear power costs under $20 (at least in the Mid Atlantic U.S. region) ... which means that for every barrel worth of nuke power they can make, they provide themselves the opportunity to gain a $40+ profit on a real barrel of oil down the road.
    • ... because its not like they have a cheap, abundant source of power anywhere. /blockquote.

      Removing oil from the ground, and processing it requires energy. Why would you want to burn some of the oil that produces your profits? Also, they know that the oil will eventually run out, and as the reserves get lower, the oil becomes harder to pump, and costs more to extract. This means decreasing profits.

      Even Iran, which is an oil rich nation could become a net energy IMPORTER. Thus, they need other means of prod

    • by killjoe (766577)
      Oil is too valuable to be used internally and only getting more expensive. Why not minimize the use of oil internally so you can sell all your stock.

      using oil is bad for the environment.

      These countries need nuclear weapons in order to counter a threat from the US and israel. US has made it clear it claims ownership all oil supplies er I mean strategic resources anywhere in the world.

      Personally I think they should get nuclear weapons before they get power plants, it's cheaper and quicker to go that route.
      • by turgid (580780)

        I wish I were on Mars right now.

        World war's a-coming...

        ...Oh wait.

        What's the point in manned space exploration?

        Sarcasm is the lowest form of Humour. Heavy metal is the lowest form of music. We're all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

        I am the lowest form of life.

  • by Fruny (194844) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @04:53PM (#16718687)
    Considering how Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are all located to the West of Italy, with Morocco itself facing Spain, I honestly don't think they can or should be called Middle Eastern nations. Some people needs to review their geography a tiny little bit.
  • However, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggests that the sudden interest in nuclear technology is driven by the desire of the six nations to create a 'security hedge' in response to Iran's recent nuclear development program."

    Hmm... YA THINK?
    • by njdj (458173)

      Well, let's see. Iran has not attacked any other nation, except in direct response to being attacked (by Iraq in 1980), for about the last thousand years. Doesn't seem like much of a threat to me.

      On the other hand, there's a country much bigger than Iran which seems to bomb or invade a different country every 3 or 4 years ... Panama, Grenada, Libya, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq just since 1980, and I've probably missed a couple. I think it might be a good idea to have a deterrent to being attacked

      • Of the 7 (possibly 8) countries to have nuclear weapons, only one has ever used them aggressively. I think if that country started looking aggressive in my area, I'd want a nuclear deterrent too.
  • If these countries were truly looking for nuclear power, why not just buy light water reactors from the U.S.? Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt could easily obtain reactors from the U.S. given their allied status and being favored trading partners.

    This would afford them the ability to develop their nuclear expertise to a certain degree, while also providing them cheap power. While it would be more expensive than oil power, it's not really a relevant comparison since the value of oil is in the market val
    • We haven't built a nuclear reactor in 20 years, and unfortunately don't plan to. Why would anyone buy from us?

    • Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt could easily obtain reactors from the U.S. given their allied status and being favored trading partners.

      Maybe you missed the memo.. but Saudi Arabia is NOT considered an ally anymore! 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian- the operation was financed by Saudi Arabians, and members of the Saudi Arabian government knew about 9/11 and were very uncooperative in helping the United States investigate 9/11 in the aftermath (mostly to cover up their involvement). Further

    • by dbIII (701233)
      They don't want it for the electricity - if that was the case they would use a mature technology that works. There are some of promising leads in nuclear power that may eventaully deliver - but the nuclear industry has spent more on advertising than R&D for years. It may be cheap power someday, but calling it that now will just make people laugh at you or write you off as baing ignornat or a shill. Ask the taxpayers and electricity consumers of the UK how "cheap" nuclear power is - or if you can't be
    • Yes and no. Light water reactor is very good at generating electricity. But, if the main interest is heat (e.g. for desalination plant or oil refinery), light water reactor may not be the best design. It is not safe enough to feed the coolant water to an external site, nor colocate a chemical plant with it. Pebble bed modular reactor [wikipedia.org] is a more suitable design. Unfortunately, it is still largely on the drawing board....
  • So within 100 years, are we looking at a Persian Empire again, or maybe a Chinese Empire? You get 2:1 on your money with Chinese, and 3:1 if North Korea doesn't become a tribute state for China.
    • by quanticle (843097)
      Frankly, I agree. The Chinese these days seem to be doing everything right in terms of expanding their power and influence on the world stage.

      They're focusing on growing their economy and ensuring that their colleges produce lots of scientists and engineers to ensure that they catch up technologically. Their military is huge and is becoming better equipped by the month, and, more importantly, its not bogged down in a faraway land. They've suppressed political dissent, allowing their leaders to ignore dom
      • by saridder (103936)
        ahh, suppressing political dissent. Always an admirable quality. In truth, China is a nation of Haves and Have Not's and is one of the most politically unstable countries in the developed world, their military is still decades behind most countries and they're not bogged down in faraway lands because their military can't get there. They can't even invade Taiwan.
        • by dbIII (701233)
          They can't even invade Taiwan.

          Do they really want to invade Taiwan or do they just want to get concessions by threats every few years?

        • by dbIII (701233)
          Ah - national pride. Not being from either country but living in a country effectively allied with both I'll have to point out a couple of things. China already has the majority of US developed nuclear technology (that major spying incident in Los Alamos) in addition to their own, and keeps on buying the best of US military technology from Israel - sometimes even reselling it to Iran! China will trade with anybody which has increased it's influence in Africa and South America. A heavy handed diplomatic
        • by quanticle (843097)

          I never said that suppressing dissent was a good thing. In fact, if you read till the end of my post you'll see that I forecast that the autocratic nature of China's government will only give the power in the short-to-medium term, at the expense of power over the long term.

          Unless China opens up its political decision-making system, we'll never see a "Chinese century" like we saw an "American century".

      • Not to mention buying America. Any idea how many US treasury bonds China has bought in the last few years? The only reason the US Dollar is worth anything at all (and it's not worth much these days) is that it suits China for it to have value.
  • They're going to get nuclear technology anyway so the West should step-in with some initiative. Sell them the hardware for power plants and then in a very monitored way sell them the fuel as well. If we give them what they need (and they truly do as potable water is expected to be a major source of conflict in the 21st century) and monitor the fuel usage then, I think, there would be less of a risk of repurposing the fuel to weapons. While at the same time providing infrastructure that these countries ne
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Troed (102527)
      in a very monitored way

      Why should they, for a second, accept that?

    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Sell them the hardware for power plants and then in a very monitored way sell them the fuel as well. If we give them what they need (and they truly do as potable water is expected to be a major source of conflict in the 21st century) and monitor the fuel usage then, I think, there would be less of a risk of repurposing the fuel to weapons.

      We (the USA) have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world. We also have the tendency to invade countries and meddle in their internal affairs. So far, we haven't used

  • As technology improves and new discoveries are made, it seems inevitable that high energy technology will be available to small powers. I'm not nearly as concerned about a country having nukes as I am about irresponsable companies having them, or insane neighbors using some sort of device that, say... accumulates easily fusile material in a small package, and cheaply. No, such technology doesn't exist now; but it seems inevitable that the cost of nuclear tech will go down.

    Right now, it's pretty cheap fo

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Right now, it's pretty cheap for my neighbor to make a fertilizer bomb and take out my entire block

      But not as easy as you would think - AnFO is used a lot in mining operations because it is very hard to set off unless you really want to.

      Strictly controlling knowlege as you suggest is a civilisation destroying idea and needs totalitarian regimes to carry it out.


  • The European lead [washingtonpost.com] negotiations with Iran are failing to produce meaningful results. That is bad enough given the threatening language [cnn.com] from the Iranian leadership, and their President's state of mind [rferl.org].

    Now it looks like the Sunni vs Shia / Arab vs Persian rivalries, are about to take a much more dangerous form, not to mention the Arab/Muslim conflict with Israel. What is even more disturbing is that the restraints that contained the cold war [opinionjournal.com] don't seem to apply. We might end up with a nuclear Jihad.
  • Host: Yes, what the Iron sheik is trying to do is spice up his Napalm Suprise with some irradiated sand!
    Guest 1: Oh! That'll be really good! I can't wait to see how this turns out!
    Guest 2: I love the smell of napalm in the morning!
    All: *Laughs*
  • If there's anything the recent events in Iraq versus North Korea have demonstrated, it's "those who have nukes don't get invaded". It's the ultimate self-defense mechanism, it would seem.
  • They've all proved themselves to be calm levelheaded and rational when it comes to the strategic employment of military and economic resources. Plus, they're at least as enlightened if not moreso than the pinnacle of western culture. Their educational systems are world class, their level of social mobility and tolerance is excellent and political systems are open, transparent, democratic and have sterling checks and balances.If anything we should simply give them all nukes.
  • Under the terms of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), every state however good or bad, rogue or not, has the right to pursue nuclear ambitions for "peaceful" purposes. Now, this does not mean that some of the technology could be used for non-peaceful purposes.

    When it comes to non peaceful purposes like the nuclear bomb, the US does not have an answer! So our government will try to deny nuclear know how to countries it perceives as a threat.

    Remember our president refers to "Nuclear" as "Nucilar"! W

  • By uploading detailed nuclear bomb plans to the web in Arabic:
    http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/ 03/1811235 [slashdot.org]
  • Morocco had already begun work years ago on a nuclear power plant at Tan-Tan as a pilot project for a possible large-scale nuclear desalination project. They were primarily received support from China; however, Chinese interest in assisting Morocco floundered, and since Hu Jintao came to power, he has shown no desire to complete it.
  • To be quite honest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PingXao (153057) on Saturday November 04, 2006 @07:04PM (#16719739)
    No nation or other group can seriously try to play mediator in the region re. nuclear weapons without confronting the elephant in the room. Israel must be made to acknowledge its stable of nukes. You can't tell nations they cannot have nukes while Israel is sitting right there in the middle of the lot with its unofficial nuclear arsenal.

    Any non-proliferation efforts are doomed to fail in the middle east unless Israel owns up to what they have. To turn a blind eye to their nuclear capability while preaching to other countries about what they can and cannot do is rank hypocrisy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116)
      I don't think it's a matter of admitting them, nor is their position justification for their enemies to have them either. The whole idea of having nuclear technology is that you're sane enough not use them. You throw the $jihad variable in there and you unbalance the whole equation of nuclear technology.

      Israel has them, without a doubt, but they know that they wouldn't use them simply because I don't think that they would nuke the land that Abraham promised them. However, the Islamic point of view may fe
  • Maybe we should vote for prop 87 :P

    (prop 87 is a California proposition that would fund alternate energy sources research; supported by such names as Bill Clinton and Al Gore)

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