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Obama’s Foreign Policy Diplomacy: “International Fuel Bank” a.k.a. Enriched Uranium Hand-Out

19 December 2008 No Comment

There are two Senator Barack Obama’s running for President. There’s the hawk and then there’s an ardent internationalist world-appeaser model. As the hawk, Obama likes to brandish his foreign policy credentials by wielding as proof the Lugar-Obama proliferation and threat reduction initiative. The world appeaser version, according to Obama’s Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act, wants Americans to bankroll an “international fuel bank” to help dissuade countries “from building their own uranium enrichment facilities.”

Obama’ s bill, S.1977, is “to provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology.” (Italics mine)

Obama’s plan for his responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology in a dangerous world where terrorist groups seek the destruction of the West; where some countries’ opposition to the U.S. sometimes seems to supersede everything else is accomplished by creating an “international fuel bank” costing “U.S. $50 million to support the creation of a low enriched uranium reserve… that would help guarantee the availability of fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.” Because Obama’s presumes, this “international fuel bank can play an important role in dissuading countries from building their own uranium enrichment facilities.”

Who would administer this international fuel bank? Not the United States but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Self-described as the world’s center of cooperation in the nuclear field; the IAEA was “set up as the world’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ organization in 1957 within the United Nations family, and works to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.”

The U.S. $50 million funding is the starting point in Obama’s bill as it authorizes appropriations for voluntary contributions to the IAEA.

Some countries have expressed interest in obtaining nuclear energy strictly for peaceful purposes offering a plethora of reasons such as for powering water desalination plants, or to satisfy growing energy demands, but quietly and significantly, the reasons may be for defense purposes with the growing threat of a looming nuclear Iran.

Critics of enriched uranium diplomacy argue that the expansion of the nuclear energy industry could inadvertently lead to state proliferation. Others contend that it is too much of a risk to engage in with some countries, especially those with minimal regulatory capabilities or with histories that point to nuclear materials and technology smuggling.

A September 2007 study, for example, which was commissioned by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) on the expansion of nuclear energy in the Middle East, warned that in the case of a number of countries, “the threat from illicit nuclear trafficking is a greater proliferation concern than the potential development of nuclear weapons by states.” The PNNL “performs research for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science as well as other government agencies, universities, and industry.”

To ostensibly safeguard against these dangerous risks, Obama’s bill authorizes additional funding for “the IAEA’s Department of Safeguards to improve its ability to conduct effective inspections.” (italics mine)

According to published reports, some of the countries who have overtly or inadvertently expressed interest to develop nuclear energy include; Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Saudi Arabia recently denied having any nuclear energy intent.

Meanwhile, Obama remains on the fence for Americans to utilize nuclear energy as part of his plans to put America on an energy independent path, adding irony to his laments on the campaign trail over Americans who are “struggling to heat their homes.” Obama doesn’t hesitate to provide that capability for other nations.

With Democrat Congressman Barry Frank’s announcement last week that Obama plans to slash military spending by 25%, Obama’s promise to work with the global community and the United Nations in U.S. foreign policy matters doesn’t disappoint. Using his international fuel bank as a barometer—that’s one promise Obama intends to keep.