However, an article in Bloomberg Business Week (the farthest thing one could imagine from a bastion of left wing, peacenik radicalism) makes the connection between nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear reactor safety. It is noteworthy that it is not just the granola and sandals crowd that wants nuclear safety to be overhauled. Corporations have their vital interests at stake, too.
The IAEA has devoted most of its resources to stopping “rogue states,” from obtaining nuclear weapons, while enforcement of reactor safety has been ineffective and collusive with the industry it is supposed to oversee. In recent years, pro-American (and thus pro-Israel) officials from the Japanese nuclear industry were promoted to high positions in the IAEA for their tough-on-Iran positions. Yet at the same time, there was concern in diplomatic circles about this emphasis. The Bloomberg article describes the rise of Japanese nuclear bureaucrats in the IAEA:
And that’s the connection between Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe. Iran could have been demotivated from developing nuclear weapons if Israel and other nuclear powers had made serious proposals about disarmament. With that distraction out of the way, there would have been no pressure to promote individuals who were products of the collusive and incompetent Japanese nuclear regulatory culture. Serious efforts could have been made to secure the safety of nuclear reactors, decommission aging plants, put diesel generators out of the reach of tsunamis, and find the best option for long-term storage of nuclear waste.
The result of this misguided approach is the destruction of at least 8,000 square kilometers of human habitat in Japan, destruction of the natural environment, a massive poisoning of the North Pacific, and an unknowable amount of future diseases and destruction of livelihood for the people of Japan. Other pressing issues, like giving the IAEA the authority to shut down dangerous reactors, still remain – something the former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei (who was replaced by Amano and considered too soft on Iran) has spoken of as an urgent necessity. Meanwhile, no nuclear incident has happened in the Middle East, unless you want to count the scattering of depleted uranium throughout Iraq since the first Gulf War in 1991.