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I’ve got a bad feeling about this

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By See-Dubya  •  June 10, 2008 05:31 AM

Okay, I want to hear the White House response to this, but it looks like twice in twenty-four hours I’ll be agreeing with a Democratic congresscritter. This time it’s Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, no less, who is advancing the radical proposal that maybe George Bush shouldn’t be committing your tax dollars to developing a nuclear program for Saudi Arabia:

The Bush administration argues that Saudi Arabia can not be compared to Iran, because Riyadh said it won’t develop uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing, the two most dangerous nuclear technologies. At a recent hearing before my Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman shrugged off concerns about potential Saudi misuse of nuclear assistance for a weapons program, saying simply: “I presume that the president has a good deal of confidence in the King and in the leadership of Saudi Arabia.”

Well, of course Ed Markey is wrong because, umm…because…err…the Saudis can’t afford it?

No, that can’t be it. Tell me why he’s wrong?

Because that sounds to me like another permutation of the faith-based non-proliferation policy.

BACKGROUND: Hey, this looks like a trend. From January:

Sarkozy, who has already signed civilian nuclear deals with Arab oil producers Algeria and Libya, has made no secret of his view that Muslim and Arab states have a right to atomic power.

Tuesday’s agreements set a framework for future cooperation on nuclear energy and allow France to establish a military base with an official capacity of 400-500 people in the UAE, which lies across a short stretch of Gulf waters from Iran, a document distributed by Sarkozy’s office said.

France’s Total confirmed on Monday it would develop two third-generation nuclear reactors in the UAE with Suez as its main partner and state-owned nuclear reactor maker Areva.

One thought to explain this trend: Professor Rice is something of a Waltzian neo-realist with a strong belief in power-balancing, one confirmed by her experience as a Russia specialist during the Cold War. Maybe the allies are hoping to guide the Arab states’ nuclear programs into a state like that of Japan–which I’ve heard described (facetiously) as “45 minutes from having a nuclear capability”. That way they can deter and contain an aggressive Iran from messing with them or with the flow of oil.

It’ll be like the Reagan days when we played off Iraq and Iran against each other. Except this time there’s fission involved. After all, when it comes to nuclear weapons, Waltz says that “More may be better“. And if we and our allies are involved in the construction of these programs, we’ll be able to keep an eye on them and know where to look if something odd is going on.

That assumes (as Markey notes) that we trust Saudi Arabia, as well as the Emirates, Algeria, and Libya (!!!!) to manage a nuclear program safely and responsibly, and not, say, leak any of the reactor waste products to a terrorist for packing up a dirty bomb. Or to start enriching uranium, like Iran is doing. Because we’re, uh, kinda having trouble stopping them.

All of which sounds kind of complicated. Me, I’ve got a better idea.

Exit question: Didn’t we just take the nuclear car keys away from Libya a few years ago?
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{Post by See-Dubya.}

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