- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2007

Japanese reversal

The Japanese government yesterday invited U.N. nuclear inspectors to visit the earthquake-damaged power plant in Nigata prefecture, after initially refusing their assistance.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant was closed after a temblor measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale cracked its foundations, spilling hundreds of barrels of nuclear waste within the plant and sending contaminated water into the sea.

The plant, one of the world’s largest, was built on a fault and was not designed to withstand an earthquake of that magnitude.

The Japanese government initially told the Vienna, Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency that it did not need help for the time being but would consider inspections in the future.

Progress in Iraq

There may be some good news coming out of Iraq, by way of Turtle Bay.

Iraq isn’t just the scene of nonstop military mayhem and intimidation that it is popularly made out to be, according to a recent U.N. checklist of nation-building criteria: The managing of public resources, legal reform and other governmental responsibilities are on the upswing, according to UNAMI, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq.

A formal report on Iraq’s efforts to live up to its side of the progress-for-development deal announced in May in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, is due in a couple of weeks.

But a preliminary statement released in New York last week praised the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for its progress on what is called the International Compact for Iraq.

“The government of Iraq has achieved much of what it has obligated itself to in the areas of constitutional review, establishment of an independent electoral commission, the hydrocarbon draft law, investment law, public resources management, anti-corruption efforts and security,” it said.

“The special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, noted that the government of Iraq had initiated action on nearly 75 percent of the 400 stated benchmarks under the compact, although it will take time for them to have their full impact and for this to be visible,” the statement added.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro acknowledged the security situation “remains the most significant determining factor in the implementation of the compact.”

Iraq’s neighbors,invaders and well-wishers all pledged to make specific contributions of technical assistance, training, debt relief, and investment as long as the Iraqi government meets its own goals for establishing stability. But until the security situation stabilizes, there is little that contributors or the United Nations can do.

Washington clearly still hopes that the international organization will step in and snatch a few chestnuts from the fire.

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