Last Updated: Sat Sep 17, 2011 13:00 pm (KSA) 10:00 am (GMT)

Dina al-Shibeeb: Is Iran helping Iraq to become a civilian nuclear power?

Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, about 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of Tehran. (Photo by Reuters)
Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, about 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of Tehran. (Photo by Reuters)

In the game I call politics, it is OK for western allies such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan to go nuclear provided they are able to prove that the endeavor is purely of a civilian nature. Even if countries are not western allies, if they want to have such oil-free power ‘privileges’, they need to be transparent in their procurement of nuclear technology.

Iran, hit by U.S., U.N., EU sanctions, failed the transparency test, thereby creating suspicion and raising alarm amongst the U.S. and its allies, especially in the Arab Gulf.

However, what I found perplexing is the unwise mutterings’ of the Iraqi minister of science and technology printed in the Iraqi newspaper Azzman on August 17.

Abd al-Karim al-Samar’i, after his meeting with the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Dhana’i, said that his country had discussed “the possibility of [Iran helping] Iraq to start in earnest investing in the civilian use of nuclear power.”

From what I understand, it was the Americans who did the Iraqi opposition a favor when it toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

So how could an Iraqi official have the audacity to incur the wrath of a bigger ally such as the United States by talking with a ‘suspected nuclear’ Iran? This despite using right words like “civilian use of nuclear power” which every country has the right to obtain.

The U.S. did not object on the nuclear fueling of Bushehr plant in Iran because it knew that this particular plant did not have the capabilities given to it by Russia to create a nuke bomb. It is the other nuclear plants operating in Iran which have been aided with technologies smuggled in by nations other than Russia that are under the microscope.

It is in Russia’s interest that Iran not grow more muscles in the region, and the U.S. knows that.

The U.S. also knows that Iraq won’t turn its back and favor its alliance with its neighboring Iran.

What it does show, however, is that Iraq’s two opposite allies (Iran and the U.S.) are an equation that is difficult to handle. And that Iraq is still unwise.

When Baghdad was still uncertain about the extension of U.S. troops’ in Iraq, its foreign minister visited Iran to discuss this purely national matter with Tehran.

Iraq is an appeaser and never directly asked Iran to quit its games. While it stays mum on Iran’s meddling in its country’s affairs (Iran is known to support militias and gangs in Iraq), it loudly denounces other nations in the region on their internal affairs.

On the surface, Samar-i’s statement is not big news as it wasn’t made by the prime minister himself but it dos point to the underlying problems faced in Iraq and its relations with its big allies.

If the minister of technology was really keen to develop Iraq, why not reach out to the U.S. for help? The U.S. is after all still supreme, technologically speaking.

And if he is so interested in his country having access to nuclear power for civilian use, why not ask South Korea? They are building four reactors for the UAE.

One Arab proverb says, “Close the door that has the wind blowing from it to take rest.”

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