By Mudasir Sheikh

Saudi-U.S. nuclear hypocrisy exposed

April 30, 2019

KASHMIR - According to author and radio host, Harvey Wasserman, U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to infuse $3.7 billion dollars into Vogtle nuclear power plants is a criminal act. 

The U.S. nuclear industry is facing stiff competition from cheap natural gas and renewable energy, so financial assistance is critical for the survival of the industry. Trump administration is not only infusing money into the troubled U.S. nuclear energy sector but strongly advocating the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to the regime in Riyadh. It has adopted a well-coordinated strategy to guarantee the survival of the U.S. nuclear industry.

The unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from JCPOA, malign interests of the U.S. military-industrial complex and a comprehensive plan to contain Iranian influence in the Middle East are some important links that can explain the Saudi-U.S. nuclear hypocrisy. 

At the superficial level, Saudi regime considers itself a strong advocate of weapons of mass destruction free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East but by praising the unilateral withdrawal of U.S. from JCPOA and an open admission to acquire nuclear weapons in case Iran undertakes a nuclear program is a testament to Saudi hypocrisy. 

It seems logical to put deterrence against a rival but Saudi intentions to acquire nuclear weapons date back to the inception of Pakistan’s nuclear program.

The justification for deterrence against Iran is a fabricated story as we analyze the Iran nuclear deal which reduced the enriched uranium stockpile of Iran by 98% and the number of gas centrifuges reduced to two-thirds for 13 years. 

Iran even agreed to halt building new heavy water facilities and enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Further it agreed on regular inspection of its nuclear program by international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In this context, the statement of former UK ambassador to UN and IAEA, Peter Jenkins that “as long as Iran is complying with the JCPOA, the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia are deprived of any basis for claiming that Iran presents a nuclear threat which must be eliminated by use of force” sufficiently explains the Saudi nuclear hypocrisy.

Saudi criticism of Iran’s civilian nuclear program highlights its double standard as according to Abdul Hameed Nayyer, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, Saudi Arabia can demand nuclear weapons from Pakistan due to its generous investment in the country. 

Additionally, Brigadier Feroz Hassan Khan in his book “Eating Grass: The Making Of the Pakistani Bomb” also explains the Saudi ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons.

Considering the nuclear option from Pakistan and potentially a huge space to exploit solar energy for clean power renders the establishment of nuclear infrastructure by Saudi regime useless. But the report from investigative journalist Kim Kleppin has revealed how Saudi lobby is pushing Trump administration to transfer the sensitive nuclear technology to the regime. According to the report a U.S. law firm linked to Trump vigorously lobbied the U.S. administration for nuclear technology transfer and received half a million dollars within one month of its establishment.

The vested business interests in Saudi nuclear program were revealed on February 19, 2019, in a report by the ‘house oversight and reform committee’ that disclosed Trump administration’s plan to bypass U.S. Congress for nuclear technology transfer to Saudi Arabia.
The report of the committee highlights intentions of IP3 international, a consortium of nuclear power producers. IP3 was founded by retired army general Jack Keane and its proposal was presented to White House officials by Thomas Barrack. Barrack is a close friend of Trump who raised $107 million for Trump’s inaugural committee. Michael Flynn is another central figure to the report who has worked as a paid advisor to a subsidiary of IP3 while serving in Trump's presidential campaign. Flynn promoted IP3’s intention to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia to white house officials.

McFarlane, the former national security advisor to the U.S. and currently an advisor to IP3, compared the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia to the Marshall plan for the Middle East. According to the report, the founders of the IP3, McFarlane, and CEOs of Toshiba energy, GE power, Exelon Corporation Bechtel Corp and Siemens have promoted the plan to sell nuclear technology to Riyadh.

The retired generals who founded IP3 have always portrayed Iran as a nuclear threat but now their intentions to transfer such technology to Saudi regime is meant to serve their monetary interests. The house oversight committee quoting a senior Trumps official said “the proposal of IP3 is not a business plan but rather a scheme for these generals to make some money.”

In an interview with Sputnik, Tom Sauer of the University of Antwerp Belgium said the Saudi proposal to build about 40 nuclear reactors is a great business opportunity for troubled the U.S. nuclear industry and the Wall Street perceives peaceful Middle East as a nightmare for its military-industrial complex.

According to some experts, the nuclear technology transfer to Saudi Arabia will initiate an arms race in the Middle East that is what U.S. military-industrial complex wants. 

According to Tom Collin, policy director at Ploughshares Fund, Saudis don’t require nuclear power and if the U.S. transfers such technology to the kingdom it will force Iran to restart its nuclear program. 

The arms race will serve both the U.S. military industrial complex and the Saudi regime because Saudi regime wants to derail Iranian economy by draining its resources through arms race as they are frustrated by Iran’s influence and progress in the region. 

It is similar to U.S. strategy to contain Russian influence by initiating arms race as the U.S. economy has an unlimited supply of petrodollars but Russian economy has limited options to finance its military and civilian projects.

IAEA has denied any military vector of Iran’s nuclear program but Saudi-U.S. hypocrisy to portray Iran as is a nuclear threat is meant to serve their vested interests. They consider nuclear arms race as a tool to serve private business interest and simultaneously a counterweight against Iran’s axis of resistance that consists of Iran, Assad government, Hezbollah and the alliance of Russia and China.

Mudasir Sheikh is a student and researcher based in Indian controlled Kashmir.  


 

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