Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Economics of Iran’s Energy Independence

On September 1, 2006, John Fleck reported in the Albuquerque Journal about the National Laboratories’ role in providing intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. According to Fleck:

"While Iranian leaders say the program is peaceful, many in the international community fear it is aimed at building nuclear weapons.

So the question before the labs was this: Does Iran’s claim to be pursuing nuclear energy rather than bombs make economic sense?

The answer, according to a report by Los Alamos National Laboratory expert Jeff Bedell and colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was a resounding 'no.'"

The sponsoring agency hasn’t been named, and its only appearance in the public record is a short description published last spring on a State Department Web site and a footnote in an unclassified report from the House Intelligence Committee.

Jeffrey Lewis has posted a copy of the report entitled “The Economics of Energy Independence” on his blog Arms Control Wonk.

According to the report:

"Iran has pursued an ambitious nuclear program with the declared goal of long-term energy independence. While this is a worthwhile and generally accepted national planning objective, it is clear that Iran’s nuclear program as now structured will not achieve this goal, and in fact may delay it by diverting capital and other resources from projects that would address pressing current energy sector problems and contribute to ultimate energy independence for Iran."

The report also found:

"Iran’s estimated uranium reserves are not commensurate with its declared program of reactor development, and would not in their most optimistic variants allow for life-cycle operation of these reactors. In what we consider the most likely set of scenarios, Iran’s uranium reserves would be exhausted before the seven-reactor construction program was even completed."

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