In the Dec. 14 article, "Divide widens over Iran," the allegation by analysts that Iran may develop nuclear weapons is unfounded and does not even give pause to the vexing question of Israel's nuclear blackmail of the Muslim Middle East. Unlike Israel, which boasts about its nuclear arsenal and refuses to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has a peaceful nuclear program under the safeguard and monitoring mechanisms of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Contrary to the article's assertion that Iran's oil dispenses with its need for nuclear energy, it is, in fact, Iran's concern about the depletion of nonrenewable energy resources, together with the rising need of its population for electricity, that is behind its nuclear endeavor.
Iran supports the right of any country, including all its neighbors, to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under IAEA safeguards and supervision, and it has warned that if the Western powers succeed in denying Iran's "inalienable right," then other countries in the region should expect the same double standards depriving them of a technology enjoyed by others completely unfettered.
Finally, Iran fully supports the process of national reconciliation in Iraq and does not side with one religious sect against any other. Rather, per Iran's Constitution, Iran's foreign policy is geared toward Muslim unity.
Press secretary, Mission of Iran to the UN
It is heartening to see that the Dec. 18 article, "India's 40 million shopkeepers brace for Wal-Mart effect," raised the issue of Wal-Mart's effect on established retail distribution in India. India so far has been effectively and efficiently managing its retail industry. In farm products, field-to- consumer time is often just a few hours. Milk and many other grocery items are available less than 200 meters away.
Response time is usually short and personalized services are being offered by retailers. With Wal-Mart's arrival in India, it is not only microretail distribution businesses that will be adversely affected. Because of the lure of lower prices, many kinds of goods will probably be obtained through imports, and this will also badly hurt local manufacturing and farming. And, the Wal-Mart effect could also hurt the entrepreneurship for which Indians are known the world over.
Unfortunately, your Dec. 12 editorial on "The de-carboning of American lifestyles," like Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," makes no mention of nuclear power, which is probably the only hope for meeting Kyoto goals for US carbon dioxide emissions. According to James Lovelock, a pioneer in the development of environmental awareness, we are at or past the tipping point into irreversible climate change. Mr. Lovelock, unlike most environmentalists, recognizes that nuclear power is the only alternative to fossil fuels capable of meeting the world's energy needs.
In the past, the unfounded fears of radiation risks have allowed antinuclear activists to hamstring nuclear power. But without nuclear power to replace the major CO2 contributors, the prophesied catastrophic climate change may well be visited upon our grandchildren. Some environmentalists may prefer rising seawater to perceived radiation effects, but an informed public should not follow leaders with blind spots. People need to know about all the options.
Richard M. Peekema
San Jose, Calif.
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