Who's next?

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This is the weirdest story -- but then, stories about talks between the Cheney/Bush administration and the Saudi royals are always the weirdest stories, mainly because we always know that not a single word that anyone approaching sanity is going to be able to publish can possibly come close to the horrifying private truths of that exceptionally sick symbiosis.

I mean, it's sort of cute to learn that the White House kindergarten teacher is presuming to inform the grown-ups of the world press that what all of humanity is panting to be reassured about is Americans and their frikken cars:

Earlier, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way here from Jerusalem that Mr. Bush was asking for increased production so that American consumers could get some relief at the gasoline pump.

“Clearly, the price of gas is too high for Americans and it is causing a hardship for families with low income,” she said. “We do count on the OPEC countries to keep adequate supplies out there so the president will talk with the king again about that.”

But that's not the strangest thing about that NYT report. Scroll down to the very last, oddly buried sentence:

In exchange, the White House said, the United States will help the Saudis develop civilian nuclear power, as well as new infrastructure to safeguard its energy supplies.

Run that by me again? What's wrong with that sentence? Let us count the ways.

I was alerted to this story earlier today at emptywheel's place, although links have gone strange since good discussion first started there. It's good that EW saved what she did from that first NYT story, because I'm not seeing some of the relevant text when I click through now. It's probably somewhere in the NYT archives, but why don't I just copy from EW:

As Bush flew into Riyadh, the White House said the United States, the world's largest energy consumer, had agreed to help protect the resources of the world's top oil exporter and help it in developing peaceful nuclear energy.

"The United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed to cooperate in safeguarding the kingdom's energy resources by protecting key infrastructure, enhancing Saudi border security, and meeting (its) expanding energy needs," a White House statement said.

"The U.S. and Saudi Arabia will sign a memorandum of understanding in the area of peaceful civil nuclear energy cooperation."

The announcement came as Bush ended a three-day trip to Israel where he vowed to oppose Iran's nuclear ambitions. Tehran says its program is peaceful but Bush said it would be "unforgivable" if Iran were allowed to get the bomb.

And then, all on your own, just try googling "Bush Saudi Arabia nuclear," and you'll discover that the rest of the world is not reporting this story in quite the same way that the NYT does. An example.

Honestly, I have no idea what all this means. The expression "civilian nuclear technology" leaves me kind of slack-jawed, and I'm not quite sure why the Saudis would be wanting that. I mean, there's nuclear energy, and there's nuclear medicine, and then there's nuclear war, but what is this thing called "civilian nuclear technology"? I'm sure it must mean something, and I doubt that I'm in favour, but damned if I know what Dubya and his best boyfriends for life in Riyadh meant by it this week.

And it probably doesn't matter. As bmaz says at EW's place, they're cooking up something for Iran. I wish I were smart enough to get there first, to warn against it effectively, but I'm not. I do think that's what's happening, though.

But it's Friday night. Let's sing and be merry, for any day now we could all be toast, as so many of our fellow human beans will be tonight and tomorrow ... and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Tom Lehrer: Who's Next?

Tom again: We Will All Go Together When We Go

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One of my fav tunes of all time.

When he wrote it there were serious articles on how to survive a nuclear attack - I recalled being told I was lucky as my school was behind a large outcrop of rock, as the harbour would be the target.

That was just before we practised hiding under our desks, and not looking out the window. (actually had to practise NOT looking out the window.)

It was a revelation to me when Lehrer pointed out how silly the whole thing was to begin.

even now I feel slightly embarrassed for my teachers that had to lay this on their grade 7 students and with a straight face).

From Monday's WaPo:

At least 40 developing countries from the Persian Gulf region to Latin America have recently approached U.N. officials here to signal interest in starting nuclear power programs, a trend that concerned proliferation experts say could provide the building blocks of nuclear arsenals in some of those nations.

At least half a dozen countries have also said in the past four years that they are specifically planning to conduct enrichment or reprocessing of nuclear fuel, a prospect that could dramatically expand the global supply of plutonium and enriched uranium, according to U.S. and international nuclear officials and arms-control experts.

Much of the new interest is driven by economic considerations, particularly the soaring cost of fossil fuels. But for some Middle Eastern states with ready access to huge stocks of oil or natural gas, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the investment in nuclear power appears to be linked partly to concerns about a future regional arms race stoked in part by Iran's alleged interest in such an arsenal, the officials said.

"We are concerned that some countries are moving down the nuclear [weapons] path in reaction to the Iranians," a senior U.S. government official who tracks the spread of nuclear technology said in an interview. He declined to speak on the record because of diplomatic sensitivities. "The big question is: At what point do you reach the nuclear tipping point, when enough countries go nuclear that others decide they must do so, too?"


Meanwhile, two of Iran's biggest rivals in the region, Turkey and Egypt, are moving forward with ambitious nuclear projects. Both countries abandoned any pursuit of nuclear power decades ago but are now on course to develop seven nuclear power plants -- four in Egypt and three in Turkey -- over the next decade.

Egypt's ambassador to the United States, Nabil Fahmy, told a recent gathering of Middle Eastern and nonproliferation experts that his country's decision was unrelated to Iran's nuclear activities. But he acknowledged that commercial nuclear power "does give you technology and knowledge," and he warned that a nuclear arms race may be inevitable unless the region's leaders agree to ban such weapons.

"We continue to take the high road, but there isn't much oxygen there, and it is very lonely," Fahmy told the gathering in Washington at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He added a prediction: "Without a comprehensive nuclear accord, you will have a proliferation problem in the Middle East, and it will be even worse in 10 years than it is today."


"This is not primarily about nuclear energy. It's a hedge against Iran," said Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear policy and author of "Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons." "They're starting their engines. It takes decades to build a nuclear infrastructure, and they're beginning to do it now. They're saying, 'If there's going to be an arms race, we're going to be in it.' "

In April the US announced it was dropping its insistence on a ban on uranium enrichment technology to non-nuclear states.

Anonymous negotiators at the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna emerged to say the American demand had been shelved primarily at the insistence of Canada, which wants to build uranium enrichment plants.

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This page contains a single entry by skdadl published on May 16, 2008 8:00 PM.

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