As we have seen with the TPP, facing as it does an inevitable economic decline, the US would rather protect than compete. Now the game has spread to Thorium  (left) – the cleaner, safer, cheaper and more abundant alternative to Uranium…Thorium’s only downside being that you can’t make bombs out of it.

Current legislation in the US classifies thorium as a dangerous radioactive material. This is in spite of the fact that it has a very long half life of 12.5 billion years, and is an alpha emitter – viz, the radiation is stopped by a few centimetres of air or by your skin. As a dangerous substance, it is to uranium what paracetamol is to pure heroin.

But rather than change the legislation dealing with thorium – and address the root cause of concerns about the safety and sustainability of nuclear power – the US government has announced that it is launching a WTO case against China…which, like India, is increasingly hot to trot towards thorium. Whatever one thinks of the Beijing regime (and I try not to think about it at all, because it’s inhuman) a trend is developing in Sino-American relations whereby if the Chinese find a better way of doing something – and more raw materials with which to effect the change – the US sues them.

This is a short-sighted view, because even if the Pentagon still wants its lovely-wovely bombie-wombies, the very ubiquity and safety of thorium compared to uranium is irrefutable. But as usual, the West is about to get left behind as Asia powers ahead with the development of this superior alternative.

This was the main thrust of a piece at French News two days ago, in which scientists at the Grenoble nuclear research centre warned that, unless more government backing and industry support (aka EDF, the French electricity giant) is forthcoming, China, India and Japan will overtake France as current leader in this field. (As I posted previously, given the invasion of Britain by EDF, we’re becoming a backwater too).

But EDF says its main priorities lie in fast-breeder solid fuel uranium reactors — a 651.6 million euro sodium-cooled programme driven by the National Scientific Evaluation Committee (CNE) and Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration).

On the other side of the world, global thorium enthusiasts will gather at the Shanghai Hope Hotel for the IThEO Conference from October 29 and November 1, 2012. ITheo is an independent privately-funded US-based body, which seeks to promote Thorium as an alternative to the uranium fuel cycle. You see, Americans outside the mad elite know what’s coming.

This conference is most likely to confirm China’s lead in exploring fresh approaches to nuclear power generation. China produces large amounts of thorium as a by-product of its rare earth mining operations and the ThEC12 conference is  partnered by the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) – an institution answering to the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), which has specific responsibility for developing Thorium Energy in China.

So, no bias then. But Beijing’s agenda is irrelevant: until such time as the sun’s power is properly harnessed to power earth cheaply and safely, thorium is by far the best alternative. It is odd, is it not, that the free trade theories of Levitt and Friedman can also embrace naked, negative protectionism.

It is The American Way.

Earlier at The Slog: Scam No 24,650 at RBS