[ RadSafe ] NYT Editorial on a nuclear fuel bank

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 28 11:46:43 CDT 2006

>From the New York Times at

Obvously not a new idea, but does anyone think the
U.S. and the other uranium processing countries would
join at this time?

September 28, 2006


Mr. Buffett’s Excellent Idea 

At the center of the current showdown with Iran is one
chilling technical fact: The same technology that can
make fuel for a nuclear reactor can also make the core
of a nuclear bomb. 

Add to that the legal fact that the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty guarantees all members in good
standing the right to make their own reactor fuel and
you have a pretty good idea why the United States and
Europe are having such a tough time blocking Tehran’s
nuclear ambitions.

Enter Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and
philanthropist. He is pledging $50 million for a fuel
bank — run by the International Atomic Energy Agency —
to be a supplier of last resort for any country that
chooses not to get into the risky reactor fuel
business and gets the I.A.E.A. seal of approval. 

Right now countries can argue — sincerely or not —
that without their own fuel plants they can be easily
blackmailed by foreign suppliers with whom they have
political disagreements. Iran has been caught lying
about its nuclear program too often to believe that
all it wants is reactor fuel. But its talk of nuclear
cartels still gets a sympathetic hearing from many of
the nuclear have-nots. 

Mr. Buffett, who is working with the nonprofit Nuclear
Threat Initiative, headed by former Senator Sam Nunn,
is a man who understands leverage. He won’t kick in
his $50 million unless some government or governments
ante up $100 million in cash or fuel. And the project
has to come together within two years or he will take
his money off the table.

In early 2004, President Bush rightly called for a ban
on all new sales of sensitive nuclear fuel technology.
But the idea has gone nowhere, with the have-nots
charging discrimination and even friends like
Argentina, Australia and South Africa talking about
getting into the business. 

American officials publicly welcomed Mr. Buffett’s
proposal as one way to persuade countries that they
don’t need to make their own fuel. But there’s no talk
of matching his largess. The White House — which has
long criticized the I.A.E.A. for not being tough
enough on Iran — is not eager to give the agency more

Instead, the administration has joined with Russia and
four other major fuel producers to offer overlapping
supply guarantees, with each promising to make up for
the others’ possible shortfall. That’s a start. But we
suspect that any plan that has governments — rather
than the more neutral I.A.E.A. — offering guarantees
won’t calm suspicions or take away Iran’s excuse. 

More than 50 years ago, President Eisenhower first
proposed setting up an international nuclear fuel
bank, the original concept for the I.A.E.A. Washington
would do well to take a harder look at Mr. Buffett’s —
and Mr. Eisenhower’s — excellent idea. And then come
up with the cash. 

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower  

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

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