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Policy Implosion

Bush backs Moscow's fueling of Bushehr.

11:55 AM, Dec 21, 2007 • By HENRY SOKOLSKI
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Unfortunately, Bolton has left office and no longer holds sway. His grip over these issues, though, began to slip even before his departure. Early in 2005, the State Department persuaded President Bush to stop opposing the completion of Bushehr and to focus instead only on getting Iran to shutter its nuclear fuel-making activities. Then, in a reckless attempt to spook Iran and appease nuclear power enthusiasts, the State and Energy Departments started formalizing nuclear cooperative agreements in 2006 with Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and, just this month, with Saudi Arabia. The aim of these understandings is to assure the completion of additional Bushehr-sized reactors in these countries by 2020.

How one justifies such endeavors economically (all of these countries, like Iran, are either awash with natural gas or have major gas pipelines running through them), is, at best, unclear. What's not, unfortunately, is that America is now committed to the hope (against all past experience) that it can somehow push Atoms for Peace in the war torn Middle East and have an Iran with a nuclear program but without the bomb. Not to put too fine a point on it, we would all better off if we reversed course. The question now is how.

Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington, D.C., and is co-editor with Patrick Clawson of Getting Ready for a Nuclear-ready Iran (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005).