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Guess who's building nuclear power plants
April 3, 2007 2:10 AM   Subscribe

Guess who's building nuclear power plants. Short memories or hypocrisy ?
posted by Substrata (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I always find it a bit strange when people call "hypocrisy" if somebody changes their mind about something 30 years later. My guess is this: 30 years ago, the shah wasn't shouting "death to America!", so they weren't all that upset about him having access to nuclear materials. Now, Iran is saying "Man, I wish we could just wipe Israel off the face of the earth" so people are understandably a bit more on edge. But hey, I'm just guessin.
posted by antifuse at 2:35 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


That first link took FOREVER to open for me... *looks around, paranoid, for signs of Homeland Security invading her computer cache*
posted by amyms at 2:40 AM on April 3, 2007


Short memories or hypocrisy?

How about unintended consequences?

The young Iranians arrived in Cambridge in the summer of 1975, part of a historic venture between their government and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to train the first generation of Iranian nuclear scientists. The program began as a symbol of friendship.....

Great find Substrata.
posted by three blind mice at 2:41 AM on April 3, 2007


Yeah, obviously, the difference is this: The Shah was an asshole, but he was our asshole. That's how it works. Personally I don't think the Shah's Iran or current-day Iran should've or should be building nuclear power plants, or nuclear bombs. I don't think anyone should be building nuclear power plants, or nuclear bombs.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:42 AM on April 3, 2007


I don't think anyone should be building nuclear power plants, or nuclear bombs

if only it were so

posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:16 AM on April 3, 2007


I love it when my fellow Americans ask, with regards to Iran, "Why do they hate us?"

Good times.
posted by bardic at 3:35 AM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that link to Operation Ajax, bardic... Our fellow Americans don't realize how much they DON'T know.
posted by amyms at 3:46 AM on April 3, 2007


Now, Iran is saying "Man, I wish we could just wipe Israel off the face of the earth" so people are understandably a bit more on edge

Those silly Iranians. They need to learn proper western warmonger speech. You never say things like that explicitly. You just say "All options are still on the table". That way you can threaten unprovoked defensive preemptive nuclear strikes that will kill hundreds of thousands politely.
posted by srboisvert at 4:11 AM on April 3, 2007


As Iran sees it, provocative British trespassing in the Shatt al-Arab waterway is one element in an American-driven policy of destabilisation.

The IRGC is perhaps the wildest card in Iran's turbulent politics.
posted by adamvasco at 4:45 AM on April 3, 2007


Shah was ok! Each time a batch of Iranian students came to America to study, he would embed a govt agent to watch them. He was not a good person and got repalced. Now the religious nutters are as bad or worse. But as noted aboive, he was ours and did what was asked of him...or what he was told to do. Clue: beware of all people wearing funny hats
posted by Postroad at 4:49 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or shirts.
posted by Jimbob at 5:12 AM on April 3, 2007


I don't think anyone should be building nuclear power plants, or nuclear bombs.

This atom-phobia is so irritating. While nuclear power bombs may be bad, what's wrong with Nuclear Power plants? It's possible to build them so that they don't have meltdowns (like Chernobyl). It's also possible to build nuclear reactors (so called light-water reactors) which can not be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

What kind of energy should Iran use once they run out of oil?
posted by delmoi at 7:11 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


For me, it's refusing to agree to a monitoring system under the IAEA that makes it worth saber-rattling over nukes. It's not hypocricy to act in the national interest, no matter how much DemocraticUnderground makes of it.
Oh, yeah, and the Shah was a dipshit and we probably should have been more circumspect about giving him weaponizable precursors.
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 AM on April 3, 2007


But Delmoi, Iran doesn't want light water reactors. And it does want to be able to enrich uranium on its own. Both are red flags.
posted by klangklangston at 7:16 AM on April 3, 2007


The Shah's bastardly behavior doesn't excuse the fucking whack jobs running the show now.
posted by OmieWise at 7:28 AM on April 3, 2007



Yeah, obviously, the difference is this: The Shah was an asshole, but he was our asshole. That's how it works.


You know who else was our asshole, right? That's not always how it works.

There's more than one right answer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:34 AM on April 3, 2007


But Delmoi, Iran doesn't want light water reactors. And it does want to be able to enrich uranium on its own. Both are red flags.

Don't confuse atom-phobia with Iran-phobia.
posted by three blind mice at 7:50 AM on April 3, 2007


So when did we run out of oil? I must have been asleep during that.
posted by tomas316 at 7:54 AM on April 3, 2007


What kind of energy should Iran use once they run out of oil?

If Israel has nuclear weapons, perhaps its more stable neighbors should be given the sovereign right to develop their own.

That said, if Iran is running out of oil, and were that justification for allowing them to develop nuclear weapons unimpeded, then the United States has much bigger sustainability problems than Iran nuking Israel in a fit of pique.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:02 AM on April 3, 2007


This atom-phobia is so irritating. While nuclear power bombs may be bad, what's wrong with Nuclear Power plants? It's possible to build them so that they don't have meltdowns (like Chernobyl).

No, it's not. We can build them so that meltdowns are less likely, even much less likely, but they'll always be possible with any nuclear power plant, and that means that the more nuclear power plants you build, the more you approach a certainty of at least one meltdown. It's expected value: even with a very low probability for meltdown, the global effects of a meltdown are so profoundly bad that you end up with a significant risk.

More importantly, though, we still have no good way of getting rid of nuclear waste. Putting them through the cycle again doesn't exactly make them any less radioactive, and we haven't quite worked out the kinks on using "spent fuel," as they like to call it, no matter what the industry propaganda tries to suggest.

It's good that nuclear power needs so little uranium for fuel, because uranium's not exactly common on earth. In fact, uranium production may have already peaked.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:03 AM on April 3, 2007


"While nuclear power bombs may be bad..."

That's not "may be", that's "are". Nuclear bombs are bad. Bad.

"what's wrong with Nuclear Power plants?"

Oh, I dunno, that radioactive shit that'll give you and the next hundred generations ahead all kindsa pesky cancer and birth defects and stuff like that? You know, that stuff they don't really know what to do with, don't know how to keep out of human contact for the next few thousand years or so? You've heard about that stuff, right?

"What kind of energy should Iran use once they run out of oil?"

As Ray Charles sang:

That lucky ol' sun
ain't got nothing to do
but float around heaven all day.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 AM on April 3, 2007


"Don't confuse atom-phobia with Iran-phobia."

Phobia assumes it's irrational. While I don't trust our government or media to give us a full picture, I still feel fairly confident in concluding that they're batshit.

"More importantly, though, we still have no good way of getting rid of nuclear waste."

Aside from burying it in the middle of nowhere, or shooting it into the sun, you mean.

"Oh, I dunno, that radioactive shit that'll give you and the next hundred generations ahead all kindsa pesky cancer and birth defects and stuff like that? You know, that stuff they don't really know what to do with, don't know how to keep out of human contact for the next few thousand years or so? You've heard about that stuff, right?"

And that, friends, is why we care more about the risk of another 9/11 than we do about car accidents and heart disease.
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 AM on April 3, 2007


come on, we should just give Iran a bomb. I mean, what harm could it do? It will prevent someone from attacking them when they get around to ass-assem, making one. What, they gonna drop it? on who, The U.S., Israel? they are smart enough to relize the conseq-consequer, ramafiactions of this action. It will make them happy no?
no one is running out of oil, the world is running out of CHEAP oil.
(then we give the Saudis a bomb just to have balance)
posted by clavdivs at 8:51 AM on April 3, 2007


Now, Iran is saying "Man, I wish we could just wipe Israel off the face of the earth" so people are understandably a bit more on edge. But hey, I'm just guessin.

But Iran didn't say that. Ahmedinejad was calling for regime change.
posted by ryoshu at 9:22 AM on April 3, 2007


"what's wrong with Nuclear Power plants"

We're going to need them to power all of the electric trains & cars that seem to be the rage around here.
posted by drstein at 9:55 AM on April 3, 2007


The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis
posted by homunculus at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2007


ryoshu--Check that link again, he isn't just calling for regime change. He's calling for the regime to "vanish from the page of time." Although poetic, it doesn't sound particularly rational or reassuring.
posted by OmieWise at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2007


"Aside from burying it in the middle of nowhere, or shooting it into the sun, you mean. "

Our space program is nowhere near reliable enough at this point to justify the risk of a nuclear waste payload being scattered in the atmosphere. Yucca mountain doesn't go online for at least another decade and while I don't necessarily disagree with the characterisation (esp. with regards to Nevada), "the middle of nowhere" is always somebody else's somewhere. Getting stuff there safely is not a given; estimates range from 75 to 570 predicted accidents. I'm pretty close to the fence on the issue of moving ahead with nuclear power, but right now I don't trust our government to get anything right.

Omiewise: That is still a far cry from calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" which is what sounds so ominous in conjunction with a nuclear program. It was more along the lines of "We will bury you". The distinction is that he is talking about the government, not the populace.
posted by Manjusri at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2007


bardic: I love it when my fellow Americans ask, with regards to Iran, "Why do they hate us?"

Somewhat surprisingly, Iranian public opinion has been relatively friendly to the US (there's a lot of young people who dislike the current government and who don't remember the Shah), although that's changed since Bush came to power.

A January poll:
Most Iranians have negative opinions of the United States (76%) and the current US government (93%) while their attitudes toward the American people are divided (45% favorable, 49% unfavorable).
The poll also notes that 59% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Iranian people.
posted by russilwvong at 11:44 AM on April 3, 2007


Although poetic, it doesn't sound particularly rational or reassuring.

Especially when compared to "these regimes constitute an axis of evil and the world must confront them."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:57 AM on April 3, 2007


Check that link again, he isn't just calling for regime change. He's calling for the regime to "vanish from the page of time." Although poetic, it doesn't sound particularly rational or reassuring.

He was talking about removing the "Zionist regime." That's regime change. It wasn't about wiping Israel off the map, something the Ledeens of the world would like us to believe. I don't find anything that Ahmedinejad says to be particularly rational or reassuring. Luckily he's just a figurehead that spouts a lot of populist rhetoric.
posted by ryoshu at 12:02 PM on April 3, 2007


Yeah, right. One need not feel good about the policies of the Israeli government (or even support Israel's right to exist) to be honest about the kinds of pressures it faces. No other part of his rhetoric makes it seem unlikely that he wasn't calling for the destruction of Israel, and the parsing of his statements is unconvincing and probably wrong. He's a nutjob.

So are a lot of people, but we're talking about him.
posted by OmieWise at 12:11 PM on April 3, 2007


Jesus, too many negatives. Nothing he says or does convinces me that he deserves the benefit of the fine distinctions being drawn here. He knows he's speaking on the public stage. Anyone who can parse Bush's speech when he talks about a "culture of life," and know that he's talking in fundamentalist buzzwords should also be able to see that Ahmedinejad doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt here.
posted by OmieWise at 12:14 PM on April 3, 2007


Nothing he says or does convinces me that he deserves the benefit of the fine distinctions being drawn here.

"Fine distinctions" meaning translation of a foreign language? I'm not trying to defend Ahmedinejad here. He's an extremist that plays to his fundamentalist base. But when people say Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, they need to be corrected. The country of Iran said no such thing. The President of Iran didn't say it either.

The people that would like you to believe that the country of Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth are the same ones that said Iraq presented an imminent threat to the US, was building nukes, had tons of WMDs, was going to molest your parakeet, etc. Even if Iran gained a dozen nuclear weapons tomorrow, Ahmedinejad would have exactly zero control over them.
posted by ryoshu at 12:41 PM on April 3, 2007


"Fine distinctions" meaning translation of a foreign language?

No, fine distinctions like the one that sees a threat in "wipe Israel off the map" and no threat (or just "regime change") in "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." I don't know how that statement, from Ahmedinejad, can be construed as somehow materially better in anything other than the most literal sense. It is giving Ahmedinejad the benefit of the doubt to think that he's just talking about regime change there (and what does that phrase even mean?).

I think it's also a fine distinction to talk about Iran's constitutional balance of power in this instance. Ahmedinejad gets the press he does because he's representative of certain currents in Iranian nationalist feeling. It isn't wrong to say that the US invaded Iraq, nor is it wrong to say that Americans wanted to invade Iraq. It may be unpalatable, but it isn't wrong.

As far as the charge of gullibility goes: I didn't believe the rhetoric about Iraq, I do believe the statements coming out of Iran. That the people who made the former want me to believe the latter does not make Ahmedinejad statements somehow untrue. During the buildup to the invasion of Iraq I urged everyone I knew to think critically about what was being said, and I think Ahmedinejad's statements also require careful thought. My opinion is that he's a nut who wants to destroy Israel and who represents a country that cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. The literal translation of his words does nothing to calm that assessment.
posted by OmieWise at 12:59 PM on April 3, 2007


In the 70s Boston Edison ran an ad saying that a nuclear power plant in Iran was a good idea (I'm guessing because they wanted to do the same thing). In 2007 the US government says this is a bad idea. How is that hypocrisy? The Bush administration may be full of hypocrites but I don't see the connection unless Boston Edison is part of the administration. Was it hypocrisy that some US industrialists thought the Nazis were a-okay but the US later went to war against them?
posted by Carbolic at 1:23 PM on April 3, 2007


Did the industrialists run the government when it wanted to go to war later? And what does Boston Edison have to do with it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:29 PM on April 3, 2007


The first link to the copy accompanied by the photo of the Shah is a Boston Edison advertisement. Look at the small print at the bottom.
posted by Carbolic at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2007


fine distinctions like the one that sees a threat in "wipe Israel off the map" and no threat (or just "regime change")

I'm not sure where you got "regime change" = no threat. As seen from our misadventure in Iraq, regime change through force is a messy process. Ahmedinejad seems to be tossing Bush's bellicose words back at him.

I think it's also a fine distinction to talk about Iran's constitutional balance of power in this instance.

Umm, wha?? Ahmedinejad's power, or lack thereof, is central to the issue. President Ahmedinejad has zero power to declare war on anyone. I'm sure he has a number of supporters that would nuke Israel if given the chance. President Bush has a number of supporters (28% of the US would be a good guess) that would be giddy if Mecca was nuked today. The difference between the two is that Bush has the power to push the button, Ahmedinejad does not have that power and never will.

I didn't believe the rhetoric about Iraq, I do believe the statements coming out of Iran.

When I start hearing Ali Khamenei talk about nuking Israel, then I'll be worried. As is, the Ayatollahs have told Ahmedinejad to tone down his rhetoric. As far as trusting Iran with nukes, I don't trust them any more or less than any other country that has them. Iran is a rational actor on the geopolitical stage. More rational than North Korea. If Iran were to acquire nukes, they would not start lobbing them at Israel. Iran would be "wiped off the map" and everyone, including Iran, knows that.
posted by ryoshu at 2:06 PM on April 3, 2007


russilwvong writes Somewhat surprisingly, Iranian public opinion has been relatively friendly to the US (there's a lot of young people who dislike the current government and who don't remember the Shah), although that's changed since Bush came to power.

I totally agree. Given a generation, things were changing towards the moderates. Invading the countries immediately east and west changed all that though, since to conservatives with the real power were able to fear-monger their way to a renewed hard-line.

Gee, it's as if they were following the example of another prominent nation.

The point has been made by others, but it's obvious that the ruling regimes of Iran and the US have a lot more in common than they'd like to admit. And each country will be much better off once said regime is gone.
posted by bardic at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2007


In my cynical moments, Bardic, I imagine Bush and Ahmedinejad on the telephone, saying almost the exact same things that you did, only laughing the whole time.
posted by klangklangston at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2007


Both Bush and Ahmedinejad have beady little eyes.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2007


The Bush administration may be full of hypocrites but I don't see the connection unless Boston Edison is part of the administration.

Hard to say for sure who's making the decisions, if Cheney holds energy task force meetings behind closed doors, right?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:22 PM on April 3, 2007


But Delmoi, Iran doesn't want light water reactors. And it does want to be able to enrich uranium on its own. Both are red flags. -- klangklangston

That said, if Iran is running out of oil, and were that justification for allowing them to develop nuclear weapons unimpeded, then the United States has much bigger sustainability problems than Iran nuking Israel in a fit of pique. -- Blazecock Pileon

Okay, I was replying, specifically to one person who said he didn't want anyone building nuclear power plants. Obviously I would prefer if Iran did not build any plants which could produce nuclear weapons.

No, it's not. We can build them so that meltdowns are less likely, even much less likely, but they'll always be possible with any nuclear power plant, and that means that the more nuclear power plants you build, the more you approach a certainty of at least one meltdown. -- jefgodesky

Mathematically that's true. However, you can only fit a certain number nuclear power plants on the surface of the earth, and there is a finite amount of time before the sun engulfs the earth. You can build nuclear power plants that cannot melt down without violating Newtonian physics (such as pebble bed reactors) which good enough for me.

Oh, I dunno, that radioactive shit that'll give you and the next hundred generations ahead all kindsa pesky cancer and birth defects and stuff like that? You know, that stuff they don't really know what to do with, don't know how to keep out of human contact for the next few thousand years or so? You've heard about that stuff, right?

What do you mean they don't know what to do with? All they have to do is burry it and tell people not to dig it up, hardly any is produced. How many litres of nuclear waste are produced every year? How many would be produced if we switched all energy to nuclear power? Do you know? If not, figure it out and tell us, because I don't think it's very much, and frankly I don't think we would have much trouble storing it for "A hundred generations"

By the way, you'll probably die from cancer, nukes or no, regardless.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on April 3, 2007


It’s taken the Shah 30 years to build nuclear power plants? They should throw him out of office or something. Who’s this Boston Edison guy? Is he that circus acrobat ghost guy Deadman?
posted by Smedleyman at 7:59 PM on April 3, 2007


"All they have to do is burry it and tell people not to dig it up"

Jeezis, delmoi, (and you too, klang, mister "bury it in the middle of nowhere or shoot it into the sun") have you been taking ignorant pills since you started college?:

"What do you mean they don't know what to do with?"

Read this, from the frickin' Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

"At this time there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste. Since the only way radioactive wastes finally become harmless is through decay, which for some isotopes contained in high-level wastes can take hundreds of thousands of years, the wastes must be stored in a way that provides adequate protection for very long times."

""Tell people not to dig it up"

Now that you know we're talking about "hundreds of thousands of years", how, exactly, do we "tell people"? I mean, for example, if the Sumerians had buried highly radioctive wastes a few thousand years back, how do you figure they'd have "told" us, now in the 21st century, that, you know, we might wanna stay away from the well water round certain parts of, er, Sumeria?

So, um, Delmoi, it was just the other day I complimented you on a reasoned, intelligent line of thinking on another thread that was going on, but this time around, man, you just plain talking fucking dumb, brother. Do a little research.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:34 AM on April 4, 2007


Here's a little research:
Current and projected inventories

By December 2000, SNF [spent nuclear fuel] containing 42,700 MTHM [metric tonnes of heavy metal] was stored at 72 commercial power reactor sites and one independent storage site (this projection does not include DOE-owned sites [!]). Those sites are located in 33 States. Of the 118 reactors at these 72 sites, 14 are no longer in operation. Fifteen reactor sites have added NRC-licensed (as per 10 CFR 72) onsite independent spent fuel storage installations utilizing above-grade dry storage to supplement their in-pool storage capacity; others are approaching full pool capacity and will require additional storage.

Based on projections made in Fiscal Year 2000, by 2035, when the last of the existing 118 commercial power reactors will have completed its initial 40-year license period, SNF containing a total of about 83,800 MTHM will have been generated. This inventory includes SNF resulting from burning approximately 33 MTHM of surplus weapons-usable plutonium in the form of mixed-oxide fuel in commercial nuclear reactors. The resulting SNF would be stored at the reactor sites until it was transported to a repository for disposal.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:48 AM on April 4, 2007


You can build nuclear power plants that cannot melt down without violating Newtonian physics (such as pebble bed reactors) which good enough for me.

Last I checked, pebble bed reactors were still unproven--lots of development still needed to see if the idea would work at all, much less the usual bane of energy problems, things like scale. Besides, there's plenty of reasons for concern about the safety of pebble bed reactors.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2007


about 83,800 MTHM will have been generated.

I dunno, Kirth, that must be incorrect. No less an authoritative source than delmoi indicated earlier that it was probably only a few litres. Now, somebody here is way off. You better check your sources.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:27 AM on April 5, 2007


I see what you mean. I should use more authoritative websites - this doe.gov is obviously some kind of special-interest axe-grinding disinformation site.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:01 AM on April 5, 2007


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