Greenpeace launches campaign for nuclear-free Middle East

25 crew members will set sail on the Rainbow Warrior who will be joined by local supporters from each country where the boat stops.

By SHELLY PAZ
February 17, 2007 21:49
2 minute read.
Greenpeace launches campaign for nuclear-free Middle East

greenpeace 298.88. (photo credit: Greenpeace/Roger Grace)

 
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A two-month campaign by Greenpeace aimed at alerting Middle Eastern countries to the danger of the Iranian nuclear threat begins on Sunday in Iran, and will end up in Turkey, with a stop in Israel as well. The goal of the campaign, led by the Rainbow Warrior, is to pave the way to a nuclear-free Middle East and to also suggest alternative sources of energy like solar power to offset the rising interest in nuclear power in the region. "Security policy based on nuclear weapons is a policy based on mutual deterrence. The theory is that the threat is so awful that it prevents the actual use of the nuclear weapon. But what if the theory is wrong? What if one of the sides is not as rational as the other side?" asked lawyer Merav Datan, the Greenpeace International Political Adviser on the Middle East who specializes on arms control, during a seminar Thursday on the topic in Tel Aviv. Twenty-five crew members will set sail on the Rainbow Warrior on Sunday, along with an international campaign team that includes five Greenpeace activists who will be joined by local supporters from each country where the boat stops. Parallel opening events will be held in front of the Knesset and the nuclear reactor under construction in Bushehr, Iran on Sunday. The Rainbow Warrior arrived in Iran on Friday, where the activists were due to hold a seminar on more environmentally friendly substitutes to nuclear energy. Analysts say Iran's nuclear plans have also encouraged some of the Gulf Arab states to consider their own civil atomic programs. Among the Gulf states the Rainbow Warrior will visit are Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar, which like Iran sit on vast energy reserves. Yemen, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey are also on the itinerary. According to the Greenpeace Mediterranean bureau, another conference is planned to be held in Egypt later in the campaign. "Egypt believes that in order to discuss regional security, first the nuclear issue has be to cleared up, while Israel thinks that the nuclear issue should be cleared up only after a regional long-term peace is reached. These opposite approaches freeze any progress. Opening the nuclear issue to discussion in Israel is an important trust-building act which will allow, for the first time, a public dialogue in a nation that embraced the policy of ambiguity as a way of life," said Datan. "Israel is the only country worldwide that is not a member in any of the main treaties that oppose weapons of mass destruction," he said. "The Israeli policy of ambiguity might seem, to an Israeli eye, to be restraint but to an outsider, it might be seen as aggressive." Greenpeace suggests that achieving a nuclear-free Middle East is the only answer, especially when more Arab countries have already announced their intentions to develop their own nuclear plants. The nuclear disarmament campaign is Greenpeace's longest-running campaign and which gave birth to the organization just over 35 years ago. On September 15, 1971, a group of Canadian peace activists sailed in an old trawler to the US nuclear test site at Amchitka Island, Alaska trying to stop underground tests at the site. Only later on, after the third and last nuclear test, was the campaign successful, with the area now intended to become a restricted access wildlife preserve in 2025.

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