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Axis of oil
Confronting the world's new petro-powers
Joshua Kurlantzick, National Post
Earlier this year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in China -- and quickly made himself at home. The occasion was a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional group linking China, Russia, and Central Asia. Ahmadinejad seemed to be everywhere. He posed, arms linked, with Russian and Chinese officials, who said nothing as he called for "impartial experts" to investigate whether the Holocaust happened. He delivered a major address on Chinese state television. And he proposed making "the SCO into a strong and influential economic, political and trade institution [to] thwart the threat of domineering powers."
One guess which "domineering power" he had in mind.
Ahmadinejad's Shanghai strategy signals a potentially momentous change in the international system. In four key regions of the globe -- China; Russia and the former Soviet Union; the Middle East; and Latin America -- a toxic combination of factors have combined to create a new, fluid alliance of nations that could potentially oppose the United States and other democracies. In the past five years, all these regions have witnessed rising nationalism and anti-Americanism. In all four regions, leaders fear American power could undermine their autocratic or semi-autocratic regimes. In all four regions, countries have at least flirted with democracy yet recently begun to turn their backs on it. And in all four regions, authoritarian governments have a new weapon, one potentially more powerful than nukes: oil.
Joshua Kurlantzick is a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a Special Correspondent for the New Republic.
(28 Sept 2006)
Another analysis that points to the importance of oil in international relations. However I'm not convinced by the argument that American power = democracy = access to oil. Rather, it seems as if the desire for oil is primary and the noble sentiments are an afterthought. -BA
Russia may re-direct new gas supplies from US to Europe: Putin
Russia may re-direct gas supplies from the huge Shtokman field it is developing in the Barents Sea from the US to Europe, to guarantee stable energy exports to its traditional market, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said in Compiegne, France over the weekend.
"I can inform you that Gazprom is examining this possibility and could make a decision on this issue very soon," Putin said Saturday at a press conference following a summit with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The extracts of the press conference were posted on the Kremlin official web site. ..
Gazprom declined to comment on Putin's statement. But a company top manager said in June it did not rule out supplying part of the Shtokman gas to Europe via Norway's pipelines at a later stage of the project development.
Shtokman, with reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic meters, has been targeting liquefied natural gas production to be supplied primarily to the US starting from 2011.
(25 Sept 2006)
Doubtful of the US, Saudi Arabia begins looking east
Jean-Francois Seznec, Daily Star (Lebanon)
This year Saudi Arabia will produce 50 million tons of petrochemicals, making it the seventh largest producer in the world. There are tens of industrial projects in the kingdom valued at hundreds of billions of dollars that are likely to bring production of petrochemicals to 120 million tons by 2015.
This growth should translate into sales of $60 billion per year, slowly but surely switching the Saudi economy away from crude oil production alone and making it the leading world producer of petrochemicals. ..
However, the push for investments in the kingdom was also due to a change in the traditional practice of investing abroad. After September 11, the merchants, the richest but also the less rich, feared they could no longer hold their assets in US dollars in American institutions due to the threat of capricious seizure by the US Treasury. At the same time, they realized that US involvement in an unprovoked war and ambiguous foreign policies was leading to a loss of American credibility in the world and the transfer of US wealth to Chinese coffers. Hence it made sense to Saudis to invest at home and try to conquer the Far Eastern markets.
The Saudis have been sweet-talking the US with promises of cooperation, but the real tangible activity, both diplomatically and economically, is increasingly with China. The Saudis are more eager to be friends with the lender states, Japan and China, than to actually support a US government that is kept financially afloat by, and thus dependent on, the far eastern powers.
The Saudis have turned toward trading with the East rather than supporting the Bush administration's militaristic policies, which they see as self-destructive. The new paradigm the Saudis are working with considers that world domination will come not from a military hegemon but from an economic one in the Far East, with which Saudi Arabia is rapidly carving out a major position of influence for itself. ..
(25 Sept 2006)
Russia Calls IAEA’s Reserves of Low-Enriched Uranium “Interesting but Dangerous”
The head of Russia’s Federal Nuclear Power Agency Rosatom Sergei Kiriyenko said on Tuesday, Sept. 12, that a proposal made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to create guaranteed reserves of low-enriched uranium was interesting but dangerous.
The IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, recently proposed a voluntary mechanism based on the Concept for a Multilateral Mechanism for Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel. The Concept was submitted to it on June 12 by the six nations that now provide the bulk of enriched uranium: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
(12 Sept 2006)