Sunday, July 08, 2007

Nuclear Proliferation For Republican-Friendly Dictators

By Cernig

As far as the Bush administration is concerned, nuclear proliferation is OK as long as you're a dictator with an "in" to the GOP and its backers. The sordid hypocrisy of looking the other way for some while threatening to attack others is most obvious in the case of Pakistan's network for illegal moneymaking from sales of nuclear technology, but now Kazakhstan too is being given the chance to create new nuclear threats to the West.
TOKYO: Kazakhstan is to pay $486.3 million to buy a stake in US nuclear reactor firm Westinghouse from its majority owner Toshiba, news reports said Saturday.

The Japanese giant will sign an agreement this month to sell a 10-percent stake in Westinghouse to state-run uranium firm Kazatomprom for slightly more than 60 billion yen, the Nikkei newspaper said. By forging ties with uranium-rich Kazakhstan Toshiba, which holds a 77-percent stake in Westinghouse, aims to secure stable supplies of the resource used by power plants, Jiji Press said.

...Toshiba and Westinghouse are also expected to transfer uranium-processing technology to Kazatomprom, it said...US government approval is required for transactions in which a foreign entity takes a stake in an American business possessing nuclear technology, the Nikkei said. US officials have indicated that the deal poses no problems, the newspaper added.
Mainstream media coverage of this in the U.S. - NIL.

Yet there's considerable reason to be worried about this deal. Kazakhstan is a dictatorship with a thin veneer of democracy where the main opposition party to the dictator-for-life was banned shortly before the last elections. It has a considerable human rights abuse record, one of the most corrupt economies in the world, has been linked to the A.Q. Khan network of illegal nuclear technology traffickers and has an atrocious record in securing nuclear materials.

Kazakhstan is also a base for Islamist terror groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Tablighi Jamaat and Jamaat of Central Asian Mujahedins. Although the Kazakh government has proclaimed its determination to fight Islamist terrorism, primarily by giving the U.S. military basing rights, the country is a recruiting ground for these Al Qaeda linked groups.

On the plus side, as far as the Bush administration is concerned:
A number of other US firms, including Halliburton, are active in Kazakhstan, and the government has retained a number of well connected law firms and lobbying organizations to represent it's interests in Washington, DC, which increasingly involve getting Washington, DC support for its plans for expanded nuclear energy facilities.

Interestingly, Rudolph Giuliani's firm Bracewell & Giuliani LLP maintains offices in three non-us locations, London, Dubai and Kazakhstan.
Money for GOP insiders seems to have trumped weighty practcal considerations here. How surprising. Only slightly more surprising is the deafening sound of silence from the corporate media.

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