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More on South Africa and Enrichment

Earlier this week we noted South Africa's announcement that it was considering creating its own uranium enrichment program. Today, Commentary South Africa has some more thoughts on the announcement.

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GingerMary said…
These arguments are so tired. Why should some countries be stopped from enriching uranium and not others? Is there no world wide democracy? I am a South African living in South Africa and really do not jump at joy at my country's policital policy sometimes in the same way that I know many people feel about George bush. But any argument that any country except those will the power should not develop stronger weapons or enrich uranium etc makes me mad. Yes some countries are dangerious, but once again, why should only the United states have the right to make their decisions without interference?

Maktab said…
It's all about responsibility. The United States, France, Britain and other such countries are responsible nuclear powers, who can be relied upon to not go nuts and start lobbing nukes at somebody just because they happen to dislike them.

I would even include India, Pakistan and Israel in this category. The former two have resisted the temptation to go nuclear, despite open conflict at times, while Israel has refrained from using its nukes even when it was very close to being overrun in 1973, adding credence to their claim that the weapons are for last-gasp self-defence only.

Iran, on the other hand, cannot be trusted in this way, nor can North Korea. Iran's ongoing support for terrorist groups and its constant (and unwarranted) threats against Israel should give anyone cause to doubt their professed "peaceful" intentions, whilst NK's policy of selling nuke tech to whomever wishes to pay for it doesn't do wonders for non-proliferation.

Thus it makes sense to prevent Iran from enriching uranium, because its threats and actions (most especially the intense secrecy which surrounds its enrichment program) make it clear that it seeks not peaceful nuclear power but rather nuclear weapons. Not only is this in breach of the NPT, but it's undesirable from the standpoint of anybody in favour of peace and stability.

With that in mind, the impression I got from the Commentary post was not that they were saying that South Africa should not be allowed to enrich uranium, but rather that it had no convincing economic or strategic reason to do so. Certainly, the international community is not wary of SA's intentions and there's no worry about us going nuclear again, so any uranium enrichment by SA will be ignored.

For this reason, if SA's enrichment plans are indeed an attempt to show some sort of hollow solidarity with Iran, then it is quite plainly stupid (arguably just as stupid as showing solidarity with Iran in the first place). And as a South African, you really should be wary of our government potentially spending millions on a program which will run at an economic loss and bring no tangible benefit to us in any way.
GingerMary said…
Off course I am weary of a government spending money on something that is not needed, but when are weapons needed? It seems ludicrious to spend money on weapons in times of peace and there are a million arguments for and against. The question I am asking is - where do you draw the line when "allowing" something. Who allows it? The world community? And who is the community? Those for or against? The very essence of democracy is market forces. In the same way the very essence of world power should be the same principle. Iran would not start using their nuclear boms if they knew that if they did they would be wiped out in a second. Yes I agree. SA showing solidarity with Iran is stupid as many other policies. But why control something by force. Why insist on having a communist approach to managing world power? Why not allow the world to grow the way it is meant to be.
Anonymous said…
The problem GingerMary, is whether the Iranian rulers can be regarded as rational in regard to your one question. When their current president expresses admiration for Hitler, talks of how he felt divinity when addressing the UN and engages in banter about the blessed afterlife, well, are you really going to feeling comfortably living on the same road as them when they possess a few thousand tons of TNT?

In regard to your other question the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty through the International Atomic Agency determines who is suitable. The main powers, including Russia and China are regarded as more stable and better custodians of such weapons for obvious reasons. Would you like a small regime that engages in drug smuggling, counterfeiting and spends 50% of it's GDP on arms while threatening to also start sharing atomic warheads with terrorists that could nuke your city? If you would know that it does exist - it's called North Korea.

If every individual or small nation must have the right to possess atomic warheads then you must also be prepared to start erasing cities from maps. After all, the increasing promotion of suicide bombers shows that the 'rational individual' argument is not a guarantee.

Apartheid South Africa possessed atomic bombs. If the 'verkramptes' had won the succession battle in the NP in the late 1980's and the country had collapsed into civil war do you think they wouldn't have been used?
GingerMary said…
I'm not proposing the "rational indivudal" argument. Exactly the opposite. I'm saying that terrorists are not rational individuals. I'm saying that they bank on the fact that the world is rational. Although I do not at all agree with the war on terror or the way the war was fought I do believe that there is some truth in that if you are wronged you should retaliate (hmm..after you have found out the right facts though...). I'm not saying that we should let the crazy people out there run wild. I'm saying that we should let the world decide. Coming from South Africa, seeing how the world evolves, I see how, in the end, if you leave something, good does win. It's when you tinker on that power, it's when people start telling other people what to do because they think they have the power when things go wrong. YOu used the example of South AFrica. Exactly my point. When the "apartheid" regime was in power, the thought they had the right idea. All I am saying is that one person should never think he has the power over another. Is that not what democracy is all about?

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