Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for April 8th, 2007

Blair’s Legacy: Conservative Rule in Britain?

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2007

The Labourites are in a jam. Their old leader has fallen badly into disrepute and his supposed heir—Gordon Brown—is not sealing support among the ranks.

 The result? Labour may be on course for a messy and reckless leadership brawl.

 The Sidney Morning Herald reports:

Gordon BrownSenior Blairites say that in recent weeks the party’s private polling has shown the Chancellor’s popularity falling badly among voters – particularly after a 2 per cent cut in income tax was denounced as a budget “con trick” by the Conservative Party and he was found to have acted against warnings from his civil servants in his decision to stage a “raid” on pension funds in 1997 that has cost £100 million ($240 million).

Ministers close to Mr Blair also say the next Labour leader should be English (Mr Brown is Scots). They suggested that Mr Blair feared Mr Brown would “wreck” Labour’s achievements.

A close ally of the Chancellor hit back on Saturday night, saying: “Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are working flat out to win every Labour vote they can in the local elections. That is what every person with Labour’s interests at heart should be doing and we will not be distracted from that effort by this self-indulgent, divisive nonsense.”

The Economist weighs in—bemoaning Brown’s attempts to muzzle any leadership contest:

So far the only heavyweight figure who seems to be thinking seriously of mounting a challenge to Mr Brown is Charles Clarke, the former home secretary. Mr Clarke is no admirer of Mr Brown and he has distinguished himself in a series of thoughtful speeches in recent months. He has argued for co-payments by users to help finance public services, more green taxes and a stronger commitment to Europe. He has also expressed doubts over the rush to replace Trident, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Last week he criticised moves to split up the Home Office.

Whether Mr Clarke runs will depend in part on whether he can muster the required 44 supporting signatures from Labour MPs. As long as the Brownites persist in seeing any backing of a rival candidate as a hanging offence, Mr Clarke, who cuts quite a lonely figure at Westminster these days and has only a few brave backers, will struggle to get himself on the ballot.

For their part, the chancellor’s supporters are bent on getting their man into Number 10 with the least possible difficulty or upset. They appear to care little that the resulting stitch-up will strike many voters as shabby and unconvincing. It is time they realised that the more tarnished Mr Brown has become, the more urgently he needs the purifying fire that only a proper contest can provide.

David MilibandBut it seems that Clark is not the man to run, but Environment Secretary David Miliband:

So, it’s game on, is it? As further polls erode the position of Gordon Brown, and an ever wider array of newspaper columnists turn on him, an old-style New Labour spin operation lets it be known that Tony Blair, no less, believes that David Miliband could and should challenge the chancellor for the leadership. Suddenly, despite denial from Downing Street, what was certain seems less so. Not a coronation after all, perhaps, but a bare-knuckle fight. It isn’t just the rising sap of spring that has refreshed the mood at Westminster, but relish for a proper political scrap. (The Guardian)

David Cameron, the clear conservative leader come the 2009 Parliamentary elections, seems to take Miliband seriously:

CameronDavid Cameron has ordered Conservative Campaign Headquarters to prepare for a Labour leadership crisis by setting up a special unit to target David Miliband.

Officials have been told to start tracking every aspect of the Environment Secretary’s activity, including his speeches, media appearances and even his Internet blog. (Evening Standard)

So is Labour on its way out in Britain? It’s far too early to make any predictions. But one thing is clear, Britons are in need of change—and the next Prime Minister will be presented a with the rare opportunity to realign the British electorate.

Posted in Britain, David Cameron, David Miliband, Gordon Brown, leadership fight | 2 Comments »

South Africa Going Nuke Again?

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2007

No, this is not a return to a nuclear-weaponized South Africa.

South Africa

But South Africa may develop a new nuclear power facility.

This might not seem like big news, but what happens if South Africa—a leading member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—demands its own enrichment capability?

That’s unlikely: Any nuclear power expansion in South Africa will most likely be accepted and endorses by the international community.

But one thing is clear: how the major nuclear powers—Russia, America, and Germany in particular—deal with South Africa’s growing nuclear appetite will be watched closely by Iran and other potential nuclear aspirants.

Why the change? Russian interest in uranium. From Mining News Weekly in March:

There is huge interest from Russia in joint ventures with South African companies to mine uranium in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. The recent agreement between South Africa’s Harmony Gold and Russia’s Renova Group looks like being only the first manifestation of this Russian interest. The outcome of the alignment between these two companies could be Renova buying Harmony’s uranium assets and Harmony buying Renova’s gold assets (these would be two separate deals). Both the South African and Russian governments have pledged to assist Harmony and Renova in the implementation of their agreement.

However, Renova is apparently also seeking other South African partners for uranium-mining joint ventures (JVs). South Africa’s Department of Minerals and Energy is, it seems, willing to draw up a list of local companies that could partner Renova, although the decision of which company or companies the Russians would chose would be made by Renova, on a business basis.

 

This minor development can even be seen as consistent with South Africa’s nuclear policies of the last two decades. From the Federation of American Scientists:

A primary goal of South Africa’s policy is to reinforce and promote the country’s image as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of advanced technologies in this field. In this connection, South Africa has obtained membership from two important non-proliferation regimes. The Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] was established in 1975 to minimise the risk of diversion of nuclear technology and to regulate nuclear technology transfers, control the export of nuclear material, equipment and technology and monitor the transfer of dual-use materials. South Africa became a member of the NSG on 5 April 1995. The Zangger Committee defines and monitors trade in goods and equipment especially designed for nuclear uses. South Africa became a member of the Committee on 21 October 1993.


But at a time when Iran is justifying its nuclear program with calls to nuclear-fairness, any nuclear deal (be it with India or South Africa) becomes significant. Can the NPT regime prove flexible enough to both 1) adequately address nations’ growing demands for nuclear energy while 2) stopping the spread of nuclear weapons?

Posted in Harmony Gold, NPT, Nuclear, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, power, Renova Group, Russia, South Africa | 1 Comment »