Qatar and Russian sign co-op deal on nuclear energy, but with a Qatari alliance with Iran, this could spell trouble for nuclear sanctions.
Nuclear energy is definitely not the cleanest alternative to fossil fuels; and it is certainly a lot more dangerous to deal with. But introducing more nuclear power plants into a Middle East lying under the threat of a nuclear armed Iran on the eastern side of Persian Gulf and just a short distance away, could herald the beginning of nuclear proliferation in this part of the world. And this is despite safeguards to prevent this from occurring; even for peaceful purposes like powering desalination plants.
A new agreement between Qatar and Russia, reported in the Russian news site, The Voice of Russia, will allow the two nations to interact in fundamental and applied research, R&D, the construction and operation of nuclear energy production and research reactors, radioisotope production and their use in industries, medicine and agriculture. This is not the first time that Russia has entered into cooperation agreements with Middle Eastern countries. Over a year ago, we wrote about Jordan’s plans to build a nuclear power plant, with Russia’s assistance. But with Qatar linked to Iran in nuclear, this new alliance could be dangerous.
And of course, Iran itself is said to have enlisted Russian assistance in the Iranian nuclear program, and completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor. To make the Russian-Qatar nuclear cooperation agreement even more provocative, Qatar and Iran signed a “cooperation agreement” of their own in February, in which the two countries will work jointly on issues dealing with “elements behind defense and regional insecurity”.
In May, UN proposals were innaugerated to make efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone in order to counter Iran’s nuclear program. One of the main ideas of keeping nuclear power plants out of the Middle East is to prevent these plants from also being used to build nuclear weapons.
Being a small country, Qatar could easily be subjected to intense pressure from the Russians and the Iranians, and be coerced to allow the construction of military installations from both countries in Qatar. Even if the motives for a nuclear power plant are completely valid, the environmental impact of nuclear energy has been written about on several occasions; especially in neighboring countries like Abu Dhabi, whose best energy bet is in solar energy .
Qatar and Iran have also reached an understanding regarding cooperation in projects dealing with improving the regional environment; which in our opinion makes better sense than going the nuclear energy course.
Qatar should therefore think again before committing itself to pursuing a path toward building a nuclear reactor, with all its implications.
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