One More Grand Reason to Support Ethiopia Build its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
By Adal Isaw
April 3, 2013
You may call this a grandiose claim, but one more grand reason to support Ethiopia build its Grand Renaissance Dam is tacitly embedded within the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Many states have signed and ratified the NPT. And the purpose of the NPT is to impede nuclear proliferation; to facilitate disarmament and to give support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. As of now and as far as I know, Ethiopia, one of the signatory states to the NPT seeks no support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Instead, Ethiopia is seeking to develop all forms of clean and safe non-nuclear energy sources, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
There is clear and substantive difference between what is not safe and not clean, and, what is clean and safe energy source. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a safe and clean energy source and will help Ethiopia develop into a middle-income country in the near future. This fact should have prompted the NPT regime to support the GERD project—since it is one more grand reason for the NPT regime to have one less a country that may not depend on the peaceful use of nuclear energy for its development.
The NPT regime should support clean and safe non-nuclear energy source in lieu of nuclear energy. In fact, supporting clean and safe non-nuclear energy source should have been one of the integral parts of the NPT. For lack of strategic thinking, it seems to me, signatory states to the NPT, especially those who initiated the treaty have failed to insert an addendum in the third pillar of the NPT that states the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And the addendum, in hindsight, I should add, should have sated that, non-nuclear states that choose to build clean and safe non-nuclear energy source in lieu of nuclear energy should be the first in line to get support from the NPT regime.
Had those states who initiated the NPT inserted such an addendum in the third pillar that states the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the NPT regime would have been more empowered today to avert the threat posed by nations who may exploit the peaceful use of nuclear energy clause for military purpose. The reason: the utility of nuclear energy source for military purpose is in and itself part and parcel of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, it is also one of the greatest concerns facing the NPT regime to date.
The threat posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) may beget the end of the world. And I presume this is the main reason that many states agreed to sign and ratify the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The central purpose of the NPT, as I have stated earlier, has been to impede the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). And in its effort to amass support from states to impede proliferation so far, the NPT has reached an astonishing near-universality; hundred eighty-eight countries, including Ethiopia, have signed and ratified to adhere to the norms and legal commitments of the NPT.
To avert the immense threat posed by WMD, however, the NPT regime should empower itself by executing the following propositions. One; the regime should find additional tools to transform norms of the NPT into strongly held beliefs. Two; to make the legal commitments of the NPT more binding, the regime should avoid inconsistencies and duplicities while working on the three pillars of the core agreements of the NPT, namely, nonproliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Three; the NPT regime should support nations in the “third world,” seeking to build clean and safe non-nuclear energy source for their development. These three propositions, I assert, would enhance the viability of the agreements of the NPT while promoting a stronger regime as a result.
The NPT regime becomes weak, especially when signatory states exploit the peaceful use of nuclear energy clause for military purpose. For this reason, the number of countries seeking the peaceful use of nuclear energy should be kept at bare minimum if and when it is possible. In fact, states should be encouraged by the NPT regime to develop safe and clean non-nuclear energy source. I presume funding safe and clean non-nuclear energy source is the least expensive and the most effective path—to avert the threat posed by states who may exploit the peaceful use of nuclear energy clause for military purpose. In addition, funding the development of clean and safe non-nuclear energy source by the NPT regime may install confidence in many states to adhere to the norms and legal commitments of the NPT.
Furthermore, a nation may or, may not genuinely seek the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Irrespective of its intentions, however, an effort by a non-nuclear state to acquire a nuclear energy source surely triggers an instant instability. Instability is the inevitable outcome when a non-nuclear state is bent to acquire a nuclear energy source, because, no state will have the proof that its neighboring state is devoid of the interest to maximize its military power—by effectively using the peaceful use of nuclear energy clause as a pretext. Conversely, a nation like Ethiopia, which responsibly is seeking all forms of clean and safe non-nuclear energy sources, has a stabilizing effect.
A cleanly and safely developed Ethiopia will have spillover economic, environmental and security benefits to its neighbors and the rest of the world; it will become a magnet for further investment and a market for finished products; it will have clean environment and hence poses no threat in the form of pollution to neighbors across borders and regions; it will pose no security/military threat to its neighbors—the kind that a nuclear-energy-seeking non-nuclear state does. For these and many other reasons, it makes great sense for the NPT regime to come out in support of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam—since Ethiopia is consciously neglecting a destabilizing nuclear energy source for its development. And this is what I call one more grand reason to support Ethiopia build its Grand Renaissance Dam.