Monday, July 18, 2011

A Real "CANDU" Attitude

While one article in the Journal spoke cryptically about squandering Canada's "biggest economic growth opportunity since confederation" without actually saying what it is or how we might, an article I can only assume was intended to reassure us about Canada's ability to exploit its growth raises some uncomfortable questions.

With many smiles and handshakes Canada brokered a deal to cooperate with India, coordinating our two civilian nuclear energy programs.
Nuclear? But aren't we worried about India's bombs already?
Yes we sure are, but don't worry, we are going to make sure they can not use the Uranium for military use, like they did in 1970 when we sold them a CANDU reactor that turned up later with a cowboy riding it. (Personally I would assume that setting up a monitoring program to ensure Canada was not step one of India's bomb - making process would be a key step in drafting the agreement, but since they already promised they would play nice, and this is an economic growth opportunity like the ones we are in danger of squandering, full steam ahead! Besides, that was just Cold War hijinks, and the demand for a nuclear bomb has faded now, as the desire to completely eradicate one's enemies is prone to doing. [Process pending in Afghanistan])

Anyway, the monitoring program only seeks to ensure the uranium is not diverted for military use; there is (there can be) no system to ensure the research that we are planning to engage in will not be used for military purposes. Short of constant personnel monitoring, or a KGB-like security staff, it would be effortless to simply supply scientists to both endeavors, and utilize the advances made.

India attempts to goad Canada into the deal  by saying that we could jointly help third countries by supplying them with nuclear reactors, but given Canada's shiny, new, doesn't-give-a-shit foreign policy,  this is mostly just a PR campaign. It is interesting to note that Canada is a member of the  International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which specifies non-proliferation, but India is not. There has even been some suggestion that the guidelines of this agreement will make us responsible for India's nuclear waste - not something I would like us on the hook for.

Despite the mindless pro-foreign cooperation tone inherent in the paper, it is apparent that the deal has only financial interests in mind without pausing to think perhaps we shouldn't leap into deals with countries that have used us in the past. Or at least not while bearing gifts.
My favorite part in the article is where India politely turns down Canada's CANDU reactors by saying, "We have our own technology." They don't need Canada's crappy little reactors - okay? They have a better one. They just need the stuff to run it. And someone to clean up afterwards.


The Kirk said...

Sadly, the face is, if someone wants to build the bomb these days it is literally as easy as google. Not convenient and not easy? Nope. Has stopped mankind in the history of warfare before? Certainly not.

The simple fact with nuclear power is, our options are go nuke full steam, or drastically reduce energy use. Would you like to tell all of the "up and comers" like india and china to go have less people, and build less industry to use less power? I don't, I don't even want to go tell an american in a giant SUV that.

Solar, wind, and tidal power are not reliable enough to produce the staggering amounts of energy that we require. They are a nice supplement, and I recommend them for that reason, but that is all. Geothermal doesn't work everywhere, and old decomposed dinosaur bones *eventually* run out. Maybe not "peak oil" in ten years like people say, humans are clever little monkeys, but eventually, they do.

So, I say, dam the bomb, and full speed ahead. Worldwide energy shortages and the last oil reserve wars will kill more people then a few nukes. Especially because oil wars make it likely the nukes get used.

Miss Ernst said...

I totally agree, actually. I do think Canada should explore nuclear energy, I think India should as well, and I think that India has probably had a good idea about how to build the bomb since they could first altavista.

But that doesn't necessarily mean we should broker this deal. What are we getting out of it? The chance to sell some uranium? Yippee. Except I think we should be using it here - this is like selling our gas because we aren't using it right now. Also even if we wanted that sale option, we still must be held accountable for our cooperation with other countries; i.e if we supply material that is used (and we were aware with high probability that it would be) in a lethal fashion, we should be held partially responsible.