US President George Bush delivered the country’s annual State of The Union address on 2 February. The speech has been traditionally used by past presidents to outline the policy agenda for the coming year and Bush took the opportunity to mention the stalled energy bill and the battle against nuclear proliferation.

Amid comments on domestic economic and education issues, Bush told his country: “To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernised electricity grid and more production here at home – including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology – from hydrogen-fuelled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources souch as ethanol.”

And significantly on the energy bill: “Four years of debate is enough: I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.”

Bush sent more unequivocal messages to Iran’s leadership on the ongoing weapons dispute, declaring them to be pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving their people of the freedom they seek and deserve. He added: “We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment programme and any plutonium reprocessing and end its support for terror,” and called for democratic reform in both Iran and Syria.

On North Korea, Bush was more cautious and said only that he would work closely with governments in Asia to convince the secretive regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Steve Kidd March 05 pq
Most will say how important nuclear is for the world’s energy future, but without showing any inclination to invest in new plants