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In many episodes, the bad guys (NID) steal technology from other planets ("Chain Reaction", "The Sentinel") and the SGC does everything possible to apologize and give it back. Or SG-1 wants to take a technology but doesn't. Then, in "Meridian",

Jonas Quinn steals a lot of naquadria from Kelowna and flees to Earth. I get that Jonas had to be set up as heroic and trustworthy, and that the naquadria is "a really important breakthrough",

but how did they justify not immediately turning around and returning it? Did I miss something?

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    At the time, the SGC, especially SG-1, were not very happy with the Kelownians, considering what happened to Daniel, so they probably weren't inclined to return it to them. Also, in episode like "Sentinel", the tech that was stolen turn out to be essential to the planet's survival in someway (in "Sentinel" the tech protects them from the Goa'uld, in "Touchstone" the tech turned the planet from an ice/snow planet into a habitable one, without it the planet was reverting and all the people would have died). The amount of Naquadria Jonas stole was hardly essential to his former planet.
    – Trish Ling
    Nov 3 '14 at 16:06
  • @TrishLing: Certainly the Kelownan would have considered it essential for their survival. Nov 4 '14 at 16:00
  • sure, but them Jonas didn't steal every last gram of the stuff. They still had more, and weren't completely without. My definition of "essential" as given in my examples above is that said world/population would be dead without it. One can survive without Naquadria.
    – Trish Ling
    Nov 4 '14 at 16:05
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I think you've hit the nail on the head.

  • The naquadria is of vital national importance.

  • At the end of the episode, the SGC had no formal diplomatic ties with the Kelownans.

The main reason that they're so keen to jump straight into friendly relations with the Kelownans is so that they can get their hands on this potentially war-winning element:

HAMMOND : Give me some credit, Jack. I will tell them that we did not order any such action and do not condone its obvious intentions, both of which are true. Hopefully, we can lay the groundwork for further diplomatic negotiations which will eventually result in an amicable trade for the naquadria. I'm ordering you to deliver the letter.

When Jonas arrives claiming asylum, it basically scuppers these negotiations. With no (formal) diplomatic ties with the planet, they're left under no moral or legal obligation to return the things that Jonas brought with him.

Jack O'Neill puts this very nicely in Shades of Grey

O'NEILL : Our core mission is to go through that gate and find technologies we can use to defend against Goa'uld incursion. Am I right?

HAMMOND : You are bordering on insubordination. We do not steal from friendlies.

Kelowna, at this point isn't an "unfriendly" but they certainly haven't acted honourably either.


Later, in Homecoming, we learn that since Jonas' defection the Kelownans have made some attempts to normalise relations with the SGC but only for the purposes of defence. This was refused and would presumably include handing over weaponisable naquadria, even if it was theirs in the first place.

DREYLOCK (over the radio): This is Ambassador Dreylock of the Kelownan High Council. Please respond.

HAMMOND: This is General Hammond of Stargate Command.

DREYLOCK: We request immediate assistance. We are under attack.

HAMMOND: We've been over this, Ambassador. We can't interfere in the internal affairs of your planet.


On top of all that, the SGC are smarting from the loss of Daniel Jackson. You could certainly argue that having saved the lives of millions of Kelownans, they're entitled to conduct scientific studies into the element that caused his death.

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    plus the united states government is notorious for taking what it wants, when it wants it. :D
    – Himarm
    Nov 3 '14 at 16:07
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    @Richard: But I don't buy your second to last paragraph. All previous material clearly shows that the SGC is, and consider itself to be, under moral obligation regardless of whether there is a legal relationship. Furthermore, you could argue that keeping the naquadria definitely closes the door on negotiation, whereas returning it might reopen it. Your last paragraph is hand-waving at best. This is again getting into a gray zone that the SGC doesn't think should exist. They are contradicting the moral high ground if this is the justification. Nov 3 '14 at 16:08
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - Erm, yes you do ; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cold_War_pilot_defections
    – Valorum
    Nov 3 '14 at 17:58
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    if the united states recovered russian nukes, say somewhere in the middle east, we would not return them to russia even if we knew they were stolen. we typically do not return foreign arms, especially if we recover them from another party who stole them. this seems to be in general a policy in the united states military, which the sgc is most defenitly a part of, and under these rules.
    – Himarm
    Nov 3 '14 at 17:59
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    @Himarm - This rule is outlined in the 1st United Nations "Nur nur nur, finders keepers, losers weepers" Accord of 1965
    – Valorum
    Nov 3 '14 at 18:43
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I've been racking my brains about this and it does seem hypocritical when you put it like that. I have three answers for you, but they might well sound like excuses.

  1. The Tau'ri wanted to use the Naquadria to power ships to take down the Goa'uld, whereas the Kelownans wanted to use it to build bombs to destroy their (human) enemies on their own world.

  2. Races like the Asgard and the Tollan were powerful enough to become a threat if they stole from them.

  3. Those races were taking a moral stance by denying them technology for fear of the consequences if they suddenly gained it and used it on their own enemies on Earth.

When you get down to the core of the matter, the main difference is that the Tau'ri were more advanced and more powerful. Maybe I've forgotten something since I watched it last. All in all, it sounds like it's less about principles and more about consequences.

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