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BRICS Pursuing Agreements on Nuclear Power

July 23, 2014 (EIRNS)—While the BRICS New Development Bank is not scheduled to start operating until 2017, agreements reached between the BRICS and South American nations during the recent summit on crucial areas of economic development are proceeding apace. As we mentioned last issue, many of those agreements featured nuclear energy.

During Vladimir Putin’s visit to Buenos Aires and Brazil, agreements were signed between Russia and both Argentina and Brazil for more nuclear cooperation. After the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid an official visit to Argentina accompanied by a delegation of 200 businessmen, where 19 cooperation agreements were reached in a variety of fields, including nuclear energy, infrastructure, communications, transportation, and agriculture. China is offering preferential financing for the building of Atucha III.

On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales had separate meetings with Putin and Xi. The Russians offered cooperation on a “comprehensive nuclear energy program”, while the Chinese announced they would build Bolivia’s second satellite.

In addition, during the BRICS Summit last week in Brazil, Russian President Putin announced that there are plans to establish a BRICS “energy association,” which will include a nuclear fuel reserve bank, and an energy policy institute. A Russia/BRICS nuclear fuel bank has the potential to unloosen the stranglehold that the Bertrand Russell-spawned non-proliferation mafia has held on nuclear power in developing nations for decades. The concept itself is not new, and it is not the first time Russia has proposed it. But in the new political geometry of the BRICS, it is potentially an enabling mechanism, along with the new bank for infrastructure investment, for the large-scale deployment of nuclear technology globally.

In 2004, disturbed by the political control the U.S., in particular, had over the availability of nuclear power, and on-going dust-ups with North Korea and Iran, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, then head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, established a task force to come up with options for making nuclear energy available, “without being subject to extraneous political considerations.” Although the IAEA would try to get new nuclear countries to forego uranium enrichment and reprocessing, ElBaradei stressed that any proposal “should not alter the right of any State to take its own decision regarding its nuclear fuel cycle,” providing it adheres to the IAEA regulations.

Two years later, President Putin proposed setting up an international uranium-enrichment and nuclear fuel center in eastern Siberia, to break the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear dispute, by offering to host all of Iran’s uranium enrichment—Iran would own the fuel, but Russia would hold for Iran in the Russian factory. Not surprisingly, U.S. opposition meant the proposal never went anywhere, in terms of solving the Iran situation, or more broadly.

Today, three-quarters of the nuclear power plants that are under construction around the world are being built in the BRICS nations. Taking the control of commerce and availability of nuclear technology away from the dying trans-Atlantic system, and providing necessary project funding, will lead to a global break-out of nuclear development.

And there is a warning that the sanctions against Russia under consideration by the European nations could have a serious impact on the operating of even Europe’s dwindling nuclear capacity. BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker outlined in an article July 21, how more sanctions from Europe could cripple what is still standing of Europe’s nuclear power capacity, should the Russians retaliate. It’s not only oil and gas that are exported from Russia to Europe, but also uranium (18%), enriched uranium for nuclear fuel (30%), and the care of the 18 Russian-built nuclear plants that are operating in Europe. A number of countries in Europe—France, Slovakia, and Hungary, for example—obtain half or more of their electricity from nuclear plants.