Financial Advisor, Political Analyst and Jolly Globetrotter Alex Rosen on Bolivia’s quest for nuclear power
Growing up in the pre-digital era, I used to love going to the arcade to play pinball games. The thing I loved about them was the unpredictability. You could never get the same outcome twice no matter how hard you tried.
In many ways they were far superior to today’s digital games precisely because of that absolute randomness. No coding, no algorithms, just physics, force x angle of contact equaled a result which was totally unpredictable.
In the world of nuclear diplomacy, three countries have become Pinball wizards: Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. All three are labeled by the west as less than stable countries that cannot be trusted with this power due to either the unpredictability or instability of their governments.
North Korea and Pakistan have already proved their nuclear capabilities, and Iran is well on its way to self-determination.
Each of these countries’ nuclear ambitions has been managed differently. Iran has been sanctioned repeatedly and subject to a crippling embargo, Pakistan has been somewhat embraced and coerced into behaving while North Korea has suffered the worst fate of all, Dennis Rodman. In any case they have all been handled.
Evo Morales the polarizing leader of South America’s poorest country has announced that Bolivia is on course to develop nuclear power, claiming it is a “right for every Bolivian.”
First we had the PIN now we have the ball.
Currently three countries in Latin America have nuclear reactors: Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, while several others including Chile and Ecuador have announced they would like to develop a nuclear energy program.
However none of these countries has shown even the remotest inclination to develop a nuclear weapons program, though Mexico did have a radiation scare last month.
What then separates Bolivia from its fellow Latin American brethren? In reality, probably nothing. The most likely scenario is that Bolivia will never actually develop a viable nuclear energy program much less anything remotely resembling the capabilities to produces nuclear warheads. Morales’s proclamation was probably just another rant from an increasingly marginalized Latin American leader.
And if Morales is feeling marginalized, he has cause. After all readers might recall the Snowden incident where his presidential plane was essentially high jacked, boarded and searched by Austrian customs officials.
Or perhaps Morales is aware that his country has long been the butt of South American jokes for among other things maintaining a navy despite being land locked, going to war with Paraguay over a piece of land that was worthless, and for holding a grudge against Chile some 130 years later over losing access to the sea. The one area where they are a world leader is political instability. In fact even Morales partially owes his presidency to a coup.
Bolivia’s problem is not an energy shortage. The problem is getting the energy to the people who need it and no amount of nuclear reactors will change that. Bolivia is a net exporter of energy and is the third largest natural gas producer in South America exporting to both Brazil and Argentina via pipeline. So if there is no domestic demand for energy, why would they undertake the complicated and expensive process of building atomic energy reactors?
If Bolivia wants respect without earning it, then promising to develop an atomic energy program and expressly mentioning that you seek it only for “pacific ends” is one way to go about it.
After all, when North Korea, Pakistan and Iran speak everybody listens, regardless of how ridiculous it may be, while at the same time, conflicts in non-nuclear countries where thousands of innocent victims are slaughtered and entire generations are wiped out go largely unnoticed.
Maybe a better way to earn respect would be to improve the overall health of the country.
Sure it’s not glamorous, it takes a long time and doesn’t grab headlines, but Bolivia has the basic resources to do it, and isn’t that better than just being another random P.I.N. Ball bouncing around?
See more from Alex HERE
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