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A Global Shift in Nuclear Energy Policy

by Marsha Freeman

Between July 7-9, the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countriesmetinJapantodiscussthemultiplecrisesfacing eachofthem,andallothernations.Thesummitendorsedno sensiblesolutiontotheworldfoodcrisis,northeskyrocketing costofenergy,ortheglobalfinancialcollapse.Buttherewas oneinitiativethat,ifactedupon,couldhaveanimpactonthe worldeconomiccrisis--theendorsementofnuclearenergy. Theconsensusreachedonnuclearenergymarksaturning pointintheirrationalandself-destructiveanti-nuclearpoliciesthathavedominatedWesternEurope'sstand,forthepast 20years.Althoughthediscussionofnuclearpoweriscouched withintheidioticframeworkofstopping"globalwarming," thefinal"Chair'sSummary"ofthemeetings,presentedby JapanesePrimeMinisterYasuoFukudaonJuly9,alsopromotesnuclearpowerasameanstoaddress"energysecurity concerns."Thedeclarationisbasedonthejoint statements issuedbytheG8energyministersamonthago.OnlyGermany,amongtheG8countries,objectedtoastrongercallto supportnuclearenergy. Likeself-sufficencyinfood,whichwasdeclaredvirtually illegalforthepasttwodecades,bytheworldfinancialinstitutions which run the "free market," energy self-sufficiency became impossible for most developing nations, when nuclear development was sabotaged, beginning in the 1970s. Now,withthepriceoffossilfuelsbeingdrivenbyamadspeculativefrenzy,whatweresomewhatmoreleisurelyplansfor newnuclearplantshavebecomemoreurgent. Russiahasalreadypositioneditselftobeaworldleaderto meetthisdemand. InanarticleintheGermannewspaperFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,datedJuly7,duringtheG8summit,Russian nuclearenergyhead,SergeiKiriyenko,madethecasevery clearly.Hestatedthat,for"allthemajorissuesthatwereon theG8agenda--thefoodcrisis,globalwarming,anduneven distribution of development resources among countries ... nuclearpowerisnottheonlymeansofovercomingthecrises, butitisundoubtedlyamajorinstrumentinresolvingthethree problems."ForAfrica,hedeclared,nuclearenergyiskey,becauseof"itsabilitytogenerateenergyandtodesalinatewater atthesametime."

European Turnaround

For 20 years, under the propaganda cloud of the 1986 ChernobylaccidentinUkraine,notonlywasnuclearpower 20 Economics

plantconstructionhaltedinnearlyallofEurope,but"popular" referenda in countries such as Germany and Sweden, mandatedthephasedshut-downofnuclearpowerplantsthat were already operating. Now, reality has overtaken propaganda. Germanywasheavilytargettedbytheanti-nuclear"movement"inthe1980s,whenthenightlytelevisionnewsfeatured violent"protesters"attackingnuclearpowerplants.Butthe hysteriacreatedaftertheChernobylaccidentiswaning.Apoll byForsaforSternmagazine,releasedonJuly9,showed46% ofvotersqueriedtobeinfavorofextendingthelivesofGermany'soperatingreactors--thesamenumberwhowantthe plantstobeclosed.AsimilarpollinFebruary2007,showed 38%foroperatingtheplants,and56%infavorofthephaseout.TheseresultsmirrorthoseacrossEuropeasawhole.A recentearlyJulypollof26,750citizensfrom27EUcountries, alsofoundsupportfortheuseofnuclearpowerat44%has risenfrom37%threeyearsago. AlthoughGermanChancellorAngelaMerkelhas,inthe past, said that she personally does not support the plan to phaseoutGermany's17nuclearpowerreactorsby2021,at theG8summit,shedefensivelycounteredcallsformorenuclearpower:"Idon'tthinkthatclimateprotectionisdecided bythequestionofnuclearenergyalone."Completelybeside thepoint.InJune,atameetingofherChristianDemocratic PartyinBavaria,theChancellorsaidthatthenuclearphaseoutlawwas"absolutelywrong."Ifthisiswhatshebelieves, thisiswhatsheshouldbefightingfor. TherealityoftheEuropeanenergysituationisthatnuclearenergy,whichprovides29%oftheEU'spower,isthe largestsinglesourceofelectricityforthe27-nationbloc.No onebelievesthatthetargetsthathavebeensetforEuropeto useMiddleAges-style"renewable"energysources,suchas windmills, can be met. Energy independence for Europe meansmorenuclear. On May 22, the Italian government of Prime Minister SilvioBerlusconimadeastunningannouncement,beforea meetingoftheItalianemployers'federation,Confindustria: "Wecannolongeravoidanactionplanforareturntonuclear power,"saidEconomicDevelopmentMinisterClaudiaScajola."Duringthetermofthisparliament,wewilllaythefirst stonefortheconstructioninourcountryofagroupofnew generationnuclearpowerstations."In1987,theItaliangovernmenthaddecided,throughreferendum,toclosethecountry'sfouroperatingnuclearplants.Thatpolicyhasnowbeen reversed. Inearly2007,theSwissgovernmentannouncedanew energy policy, reversing the moratorium on building new nuclearplantsthatitobservedthroughoutthe1990s.Switzerlandisfacinganenergyshortfallequaltoabouthalfthe country'scurrentelectricgenerationcapacity,by2035.Its five operating nuclear plants, which produce 38% of its electricity,willbereplacedastheyreachtheendoftheir operatinglives,itwasdecided.Inaddition,Swissenergy EIR July18,2008

companyAtelhassubmittedanapplicationforapprovalof anewnuclearpowerplant,whichwouldbebuiltalongside anoperatingunit,toincreasecapacityandmeetincreased demand. InSweden,thepost-Chernobyldecisiontophaseoutnuclearenergyisnowsupportedbyonly15%ofthoserecently polled.Itistimeforachangeinpolicy. France, which is nearly 80% nuclear, and never succumbed to the anti-nuclear assault during the 1980s, is the onlycountryinWesternEuropewellpositionedtotakeadvantage of the orders for new nucler plants that are now coming in from around the world. Its nuclear industry is scramblingtoexpandmanufacturingfacilitiesquicklyenough tomeetthedemand. ButRussiahasbeenpreparingforthestrategicglobalshift towardnuclearenergyformorethantwoyears,andhasmoved intoaprominentplaceintheworldnuclearequation.

Russia on the World Stage

Forthepast50years,Russia'snuclearindustrycomplex hasprovidedfortheconstructionofnewnuclearpowerplants almost exclusively in Russia, the countries of the former SovietUnion,andtheformerEastBlocnations,whichwere partofitspoliticalandeconomicsphereofinfluence. But more than two years ago, the Russian government madeaboldmove,toupgradeandconsolidatethemulti-enterpriseresearchanddevelopment,powerplantconstruction and servicing, equipment manufacturing, uranium mining andfuelfabrication,andexportarmsoftheindustryintoacoherent,centralizednuclearindustry. In March 2006, President Vladimir Putin explained that nuclear power engineering is a "priority [industrial] branchforthecountry,thatmakesRussiaagreatpower; themostambitiousprojectsandprogressivetechnologies arelinkedwiththisbranch."ForRussia,advancednuclear researchisrecognizedasadriverforoveralleconomicadvancement. Rosatom head, Sergei Kiriyenko, explained that Russiaplanstobuild60nuclear power plants abroad, inordertofinancetheconstruction of the reactors Russiaitselfneedstohave onlinebythemiddleofthis century. Russia's outreach for nuclear cooperation agreements, and commercial orders for new plants, encompasses countries in everycorneroftheglobe. Russia has secured a contracttobuildanewnuSergei Kiriyenko clear plant in Bulgaria. It July18,2008 EIR

is increasing cooperation with China and India, the two Asianeconomicpowerhousesthataregoingnuclear.ElsewhereinAsia,inMay,thegovernmentofVietnamheldan InternationalNuclearEnergyExhibitioninHanoi.AnexecutiveofRosatomsaidatthemeetingthatRussiaiswillingtocooperatewithVietnamtobuildtheirfirstplant,and thatRussiancompanieshaveagoodprospectofwinning suchabid.Amonthlater,theparliamentofVietnamoverwhelmingly passed a law to enable the peaceful use of atomicenergy. AndrightintheUnitedStates'backyard,RussiaisofferingnuclearcooperationtonationsinIbero-America.SpeakingatthemeetingforforeignministersfromRussia,India, Brazil,andChinaattheendofMay,BrazilianForeignMinisterCelsoAmorimsaid,inaninterviewwithRussia'sInterfax,thatBrazilseekstodevelopcooperationwithRussiain thepeacefuluseofnuclearenergy.Thereexistsanagreement...betweenourcountries,signedin1994,"whichincludesresearchandtheconstructionofenergyreactors.A fewweeksearlier,ScienceandTechnologyMinisterSergio RezendaofBrazilreportedthatanexecutiveordercouldbe signed by the President soon to create a nuclear developmentprogram. On July 8, a high-ranking official of Russia's nuclear exportcompany,Atomstroyexport,wasquotedstating,"We areplanningtoexpandourrangeofworks,includinginthe South American market, particularly in Chile and Ecuador."

Back to the Future?

Morethan50yearsago,PresidentDwightEisenhower's Atoms for Peace program promised that civilian nuclear energytechnologywouldbemadeavailabletoallofthenationsoftheworld.Duringthefirstinternationalconference,in 1955, on the Peaceful Uses ofAtomic Energy, 38 nations madepresentationsontheirplansfornucleardevelopment; 73countriesparticipated.Onthefirstdayoftheconferencein Geneva,paperswerepresentedbyIndia,Brazil,Japan,Argentina,China,Egypt,Korea,Pakistan,thePhilippines,Thailand,Jordan,Israel,PuertoRico,andmanyEastBlocnations alliedwiththeSovietUnion.Howmanyofthesenationshave operatingnuclearpowerplantstoday? The promise ofAtoms for Peace was sabotaged in the 1970s,intheWestbytheanti-nuclear"movement,"funded by London financial interests, and in the developing sector countries, through "globalized" economic warfare, and the "technologicalapartheid"thatwasjustifiedbythespecterof weapons"proliferation." Now, after lost decades, confronted with catastrophic shortagesandtheunaffordabilityofenergy,freshwater,and food,andaidedbythestrategicglobalshiftinnuclearenergy policies,dozensofdevelopingnationsarenotjustpresenting papers and proposals, but are taking the steps necessary to buildtheirfirstnuclearpowerplants. Economics 21

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