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Putting the Pinch on Gazprom

Perhaps the catch-all slogan for this year’s U.S. presidential election could be “it’s not the economy, but the energy, stupid.” Surely it takes no genius to see the immense challenge of Moscow’s foreign policy as influenced by its control over energy exports, a level of market dominance that has filled them with sufficient confidence to seriously damage relations with the West simply out of the certainty that Europe will continue to buy more and more gas. What else are they going to do, build uranium nuclear power plants? Um, maybe? There is a possibility, outlined in a very knowledgeable article by Joseph Somsel in the American Thinker, which discusses that the new icy relations between Washington and Moscow could lead many policy makers to accelerate nuclear power development plans to ween Europe off Russian natural gas. The most controversial bit is right here:

But if we REALLY want to play hardball with the Russians, we can play the proxy proliferation game like they’ve done with the Iranians – we can give Poland a CANDU heavy water reactor. This Canadian design only needs natural uranium – no expensive enrichment centrifuges necessary. Its nuclear properties allow the efficient production of weapon-grade plutonium, if its operators so desire. The US nuclear weapons program operated a number of similar reactors for fissile and fusion material production for decades. A number of countries bought them that, in the past at least, thought having an in-country reactor suitable for anchoring a possible weapons program. Pakistan, India, South Korea, and Argentina (under the generals) come to mind. With a CANDU reactor, a country can become a nuclear weapon state within a year or two, should it so decide. However, I doubt even John Bolton would approve, at least publicly. (…)If Russia and its Gazprom agent cannot act as a civilized member of free trading nations, then let’s let them eat their gas.

Yikes.