Greenpeace calls for a Nuclear Free Middle East

Rainbow Warrior off Iranian coast, Greenpeace protest at Knesset in Israel

Press release - February 18, 2007
Greenpeace today called for urgent discussions about a Nuclear Free Middle East to create a region free of all nuclear technology, civil and military, as essential to increasing peace and stability in the region. The international peace and environment group said nuclear technology is not the solution to either national security or energy needs.

Randa Mirza, a crew member from Lebanon, watches the Rainbow Warrior sailing 20 miles from the port of Bushehr, Iran. Plans had been made to hold a press conference in Iran to present the results of research into different energy options for Iran which would allow it to meet its energy needs without recourse to nuclear power. At the last minute, the ship was refused entry into Bushehr by the Iranian authorities.

In Israel, Greenpeace activist protested outside the Knesset, the Parliament, to focus parliamentarian's attention on the nuclear threat, and echoed the call made in Iran for a Nuclear Free Middle East. Greenpeace warned that nuclear developments and nuclear weapons in any country provoke proliferation and undermine security region-wide.

Plans had been made to hold a press conference on board the group's ship the Rainbow Warrior in Bushehr, Iran, to present the results of research into different energy options for Iran which would allow it to meet its energy needs without recourse to nuclear power(1). Through a combination of modern energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy sources Iran can save money, meet the energy needs of its people and its economy. At the same time it can reduce its consumption of oil and gas.

However, at the last minute with the ship on the edge of Iran's territorial waters, final permission to enter was withheld by the Iranian authorities.

"We are disappointed not be able to present our case in person to the people of Iran. At a time of massive naval operations in the gulf it is a real shame that there appears to be no place for a peace ship. We have received a huge amount of support and help from many people in Iran to try to get the ship in. However, we will seek other ways to communicate our message and continue to work for peace in the region."

Greenpeace further called for a full public discussion throughout the Middle East on the routine environmental impacts of all nuclear technology. At a time when almost all countries in the region have declared their intention to acquire nuclear technology, countries must consider the ever present risks of accidents leading to the release of deadly radioactive material, the problem of how to isolate extremely long-lived nuclear waste from the environment for thousands of generations to come and the inherent nuclear

weapons proliferation risk.

Earlier this month, in Abu Dhabi, Greenpeace published a report entitled 'Energy Revolution' showing that a combination of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and decentralised energy systems could transform the energy sector in the Middle East to make it cleaner, safer, and more secure.

The report shows how the transformation would increase energy security, reduce future energy prices, accelerate development, reduce carbon emissions and free the region from the threat posed by nuclear technology (3).

"Irrespective of a country's military intention, the acquisition of nuclear technology sparks fear and suspicion. Much of the current debate focuses around a states nuclear rights but we need to step back and ask not if there is a right to nuclear technology but if it a wise choice? We should ask if it offers any conceivable benefit that outweighs the many risks," said Nicola Davies of Greenpeace International on board the Rainbow Warrior.

Speaking from outside the Knesset, Ido Gideon of Greenpeace Mediterranean said: "It is time for the sabre rattling to end and instead a rational discussion to begin about the nuclear future for the whole region. A peaceful future recognising that no country is safe from the risks of any nuclear programme in the region, be that a weapons programme or the everyday environmental consequence of nuclear power. The challenge is to reach an agreement to rid the entire Middle East of all nuclear technology and weapons; to recognise that nuclear technology is a threat to everybody's security."

VVPR info: Mike Townsley, Greenpeace International Communications, on board the Rainbow Warrior in Bushehr, Satellite Phone +873 324 453 510.Nicola Davies, Greenpeace International Peace and Disarmament Campaigner, on board the Rainbow Warrior, Satellite Phone+873 324 453 510.Theodora Karchovsky, Greenpeace Israel Communications, +972 54 6611305For video and stills of the Rainbow Warrior and activities in Israel contact:Laura Lombardi, Greenpeace International Photo Desk, +31629001162Michael Nagasaka, Greenpeace International Video desk, +31646166309

Notes: Notes to editors:(1) Energy Options for Iran: Findings from "Decentralised EnergyGeneration Opportunities in Iran", WADE Economic Model Application Report.(2) The Energy Revolution report was developed in conjunction with scientists and engineers from universities, institutes and the renewable energy industry around the world. A full copy can be found on www.greenpeace.org(3) On February 15, Greenpeace Israel held a press seminar, with prominent international disarmament analysts Dr. Dominic Moran -Director of the "Intelligence Sector Analysis" (ISA) & Prof. Achin Vanaik of the University of Delhi. The conference discussed options for de-escalation in the region, and called for a Nuclear-Free Middle-East. Ido Gideon of Greenpeace Mediterranean, called at the conference on Israel to take ownership of its part in the escalation of nuclear tension in the region, arguing that nuclear developments and nuclear weapons in any country provoke proliferation and undermine security region-wide.(4) A Greenpeace Briefing: "An overview of nuclear facilities in Iran, Israel and Turkey", February 2007, is available at www.greenpeace.org or www.greenpeace.lb(5) A Greenpeace briefing: "Conditions for a Nuclear Free Middle East", February 2007, is available at www.greenpeace.org or www.greenpeace.lb

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