The Importance of BRICS Bank Is Slowly Sinking In
After a spate of articles trashing the BRICS proposed New Development Bank that appeared in the western press, some pundits have now begun to acknowledge the importance of setting up the bank and trying to figure out why the BRICS chose to do it.
According to reports, the New Development Bank is scheduled to start lending in 2016 and will be open to membership by other countries. The World Post said two days ago that the establishment of the BRICS bank marks the delayed shift of ‘soft power’ from the ‘West’, from the US and Europe to Asia and to emerging economies, confirming the shift in economic and financial weight. The center of global economic and financial geography has been progressively shifting “East” for the past three decades, with the epicenter now lying East of Mumbai.Today, the BRICS member countries account for about 25% of global GDP, 35% of total international reserves (with China at over US$4 trillion), 25% of total land area and around 42% of the world’s population. However, despite their economic weight, the BRICS have a major power-gap in global economic governance. The tectonic shift in world economic geography has not reflected itself in the governance and management of international economy. The BRICS and emerging countries do not set the agenda, but they must bow to the diktats! Voting power at the IMF disproportionately favors the US 16.75%; Japan 6.23%; Germany, France, and the UK votes add up to 14.39%, compared to a total of 11% for BRICS, of which China represents 3.8%, The World Post noted.
A Brookings Institute paper, penned by Bruce Jones and Thomas Wright on July 17, said the BRICS may not be allies, but they all see a common interest in preventing the United States from calling the shots and isolating one of their own. “All but one of the BRICS have been subjected to U.S. sanctions and others to strict IMF conditionality. Indeed, for some it is personal. Modi was barred from the United States up until his recent election. And, they see the U.S. sanctions on Russia as a test run for a strategy that may be used on others that incur Washingtons displeasure in the future.”
Jones and Wright said, “the BRICS want to diversify their relationships beyond western-dominated institutions and have a safety net if they get pushed out. They are purchasing an insurance policy against the risk of U.S. sanctions. This sentiment is amplified by the recurrent recalcitrance of the West in opening up the governance structure of key institutions,” the Brookings analysts wrote.
Putin Plans BRICS “Energy Association,” Including Nuclear Fuel Bank
During the BRICS Summit last week in Brazil, Russian President Putin announced that there are plans to establish a BRICS “energy association,” which will include a nuclear fuel reserve bank, and an energy policy institute.
This ground-breaking international initiative follows on the heels of broad-ranging bilateral Russian nuclear energy agreements concluded with Argentina and with Brazil the week of the summit. A Russia/BRICS nuclear fuel bank has the potential to unloosen the stranglehold that the Bertrand Russell-spawned non-proliferation mafia has held on nuclear power in developing nations for decades. The concept itself is not new, and it is not the first time Russia has proposed it. But in the new political geometry of the BRICS, it is potentially an enabling mechanism, along with the new bank for infrastructure investment, for the large-scale deployment of nuclear technology globally.In 2004, disturbed by the political control the U.S., in particular, had over the availability of nuclear power, and on-going dust-ups with North Korea and Iran, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, then head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, established a task force to come up with options for making nuclear energy available, “without being subject to extraneous political considerations.” Although the IAEA would try to get new nuclear countries to forego uranium enrichment and reprocessing, ElBaradei stressed that any proposal “should not alter the right of any State to take its own decision regarding its nuclear fuel cycle,” providing it adheres to the IAEA regulations.
Two years later, President Putin proposed setting up an international uranium-enrichment and nuclear fuel center in eastern Siberia, to break the deadlock in the Iranian nuclear dispute, by offering to host all of Iran’s uranium enrichment—Iran would own the fuel, but Russia would hold for Iran in the Russian factory. Not surprisingly, U.S. opposition meant the proposal never went anywhere, in terms of solving the Iran situation, or more broadly.
Today, three-quarters of the nuclear power plants that are under construction around the world are being built in the BRICS nations. Taking the control of commerce and availability of nuclear technology away from the dying trans-Atlantic system, and providing necessary project funding, will lead to a global break-out of nuclear development.
And there is a warning that the sanctions against Russia under consideration by the European nations could have a serious impact on the operating of even Europe’s dwindling nuclear capacity. BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker outlined in an article yesterday, how more sanctions from Europe could cripple what is still standing of Europe’s nuclear power capacity, should the Russians retaliate. It’s not only oil and gas that are exported from Russia to Europe, but also uranium (18%), enriched uranium for nuclear fuel (30%), and the care of the 18 Russian-built nuclear plants that are operating in Europe. A number of countries in Europe—France, Slovakia, and Hungary, for example—obtain half or more of their electricity from nuclear plants. “There are plenty of reasons for EU countries to be wary about tighter sanctions against Russia. The need for nuclear supplies is only one of them,” Walker concludes.
Russia, China and India Push for Next-Generation Reactors
Russia plans to start construction of three BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors before 2030, the director general of Rosenergoatom, Evgeny Romanov, said on July 21.
The World is Going Nuclear
Russian nuclear engineering company OKBM Afrikantov is developing a BN-1200 reactor, commonly known as Generation IV. The first of these units will be located at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Zarechny, in the Urals, Romanov said. The BN-1200 reactor for Beloyarsk will generate 1220 MWe and have a 60-year life span. The BN-1200 reactor is a 1200-MW sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor project, under development in Zarechny, and the design is planned to be complete by 2017. Goals are enhanced safety and a breeding ratio of 1.2 to 1.31-1.35 for mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel and 1.45 for nitride fuel.Over the decades, Russia (earlier, USSR), introduced a number of industrial and research fast neutron reactors. One of them, the BN-600 (600-megawatt), has been operating since 1980 at the same Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant site. It is the only fast neutron reactor in the world that generates electricity on an industrial scale. The next-generation BN-800 breeder reactor (880 megawatts) assembled at Russia’s Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant site was put in the “critical” state last month.
Meanwhile, India and China are speeding up development of their respective thorium-fueled nuclear reactors. In China, where the schedule to deliver a thorium-based nuclear power plant was recently overhauled, meaning scientists in Shanghai have been told to deliver such a facility within the next ten years. India, where thorium fuel is plentiful, has already announced completion of design of its Thorium-fueled Advance Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). It has announced plans to build its first thorium-based nuclear reactor by 2016.
China and Brazil Extend Their Successful Remote Sensing Space Project
China and Brazil will move ahead with their China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) program, adding a new satellite, and considering more in the future, the director of China National Space Administration, Xu Dazhe, said yesterday.
The two nations have launched a series of four Earth remote sensing satellites, with Brazil building the spacecraft and China providing the launch vehicle. The program was inaugurated from a 1984 agreement, and CBERS-1 was launched in 1999, CBERS-2 in 2003, and CBERS 2b in 2007. The CBERS-3 satellite was lost in a rocket launch failure last year. So, the two nations have accelerated the readiness of CBERS-4, which is now planned for a Dec. 7, 2014, launch. Under consideration is a CBERS 4a satellite to be added on.The increasingly sophisticated satellites are being used by more then 2,500 organizations and 35,000 users, with 250 images being distributed daily. The data helps determine water resources, deforestation, etc. Xu indicated that China is interested in proceeding with CBERS 5 and 6, and talks will be held at the end of this year to plan them.
The joint program has enjoyed support from the top leadership of both nations. In 1993, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the engineering facilities in Brazil, to observe a CBERS satellite under construction. The joint project is a model for inter-BRICS, and broader, cooperation in space applications and technology.
Former Ambassador Chas Freeman: BRICS Summit Means End to Sanctions Blackmail on Iran
Appearing at a July 21 Capitol Hill forum sponsored by the Middle East Policy Council, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of Defense Chas Freeman, not only tore into the Bush-Cheney and Obama administrations’ destruction of US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. He issued a stark warning that the world is turning away from American unilateral leadership and is embarking on a new direction, epitomized by the recent BRICS summit in Brazil. Freeman brought the BRICS summit right back into the discussion of “Obama’s Foreign Policy and the Future of the Middle East” by noting that Iran has undoubtedly taken careful note of the full implications of the BRICS developments. If the BRICS countries succeed in creating new trade arrangements in local currencies and actually bypass the SWIFT system of New York clearinghouse banks, it will no longer be possible to impose global US and European Union sanctions with any teeth. “They’ve cooked their own goose,” he noted with considerable glee.
The full text of Freeman’s speech is on his website, and the entire conference video and transcript will be posted shortly on www.mepc.org. The other speakers, Ken Pollack, Paul Pillar, and Amin Tarzi, all panned the successive failures of Bush-Cheney and Obama, and all singled out the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as the greatest US policy blunder in decades.
Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten Has Thoughtful BRICS Editorial
Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s largest newspaper, had an editorial, “The BRICS Want To Do It Themselves,” in the July 21 issue, which is thought-provoking and useful. The following translation was provided, of which we provide excerpts:
‘The BRICS Want To Do It Themselves’
“The World Bank and IMF, the International Monetary Fund, have as their stated objectives promoting financial stability, employment and development in an interaction between developed and developing countries. But during the recent years, it is as if they have lost sight of this goal. The two organizations, both residing in Washington, D.C., are increasingly being criticized for favoring the big developed countries to the detriment of the developing countries, and that was the real background, when in 2001, four of the world’s rapidly growing economies, Brazil, Russia, India and China formed the BRIC group, which in 2010, when South Africa joined, appended an ‘S’ to its name.
“These five nations gathered in Brazil, just two days after the World Cup soccer finals, and the outcome of the summit was the creation of a New Development Bank, with an initial capital of $100 billion, and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement of additional $100 billion. …
…the BRICS group, think that enough is enough, when it comes to the Western-dominated economic world order…”