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Nuclear energy

Future on shaky ground

by Peter Hauff
Japan is not the only country with ­nuclear power plants in highly seismic areas. Iran and Pakistan are exposed to the same risks, says the International Atomic Agency Agency (IAEA).

Iran is one of the most earthquake-prone countries on Earth. In its Southwest, the collision of two continental plates often triggers earthquakes. Last September, the country’s first nuclear reactor was completed in Bushehr. Western governments accuse President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the regime of Mullahs of planning to build nuclear weapons. In February 2010, according to state television in Natanz, the reactor has started producing enriched uranium. Iranian authorities state the fissile fuel is needed for research purposes.

Pakistan has two civilian nuclear power plants. One is in Punjab, near the megacity Lahore. Around ten million people live near the site. A second reactor is under construction. Like India, the government of Pakistan did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to have its facilities inspected.

The Philippines also have nuclear power plants in a very dangerous location. It is on the Baatan Peninsula, near a dormant volcano. Despite having been completed in 1984 during the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the $ 2.3 billion- facility which was built with assistance from the United States has never gone on the grid. In Manila, the commissioning was discussed for the past two years. While the nation’s Congress positively assessed the plant, the majority of the people oppose it. After the disaster in ­Japan, the project was put on hold. An environmental committee was told to stringently review the project again. (ph)