Just like any other energy source, nuclear energy also has its advantages and disadvantages. The splitting of atoms and the release of energy is a fascinating phenomenon and also a very dangerous one. If used properly a kilogram of Uranium can produce energy equivalent to one million tons of coal or millions of barrels of Oil. Now who would not want to harness a power like that? Powers that can help you prosper, develop and lead. But, the improper use can also bring about the apocalypse!
Iran started pursuing nuclear energy in the early 1950s supported by the United States Atoms for peace program. However after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 foreign investments were halted and the program stopped. Iran restarted building its nuclear ambitions to promote its civilian programs in the 1990s which was seen as a threat by many nations of the world. Why? Because Iran’s government has a poor reputation and a non cooperative foreign relations office. They have poor ties with the United States, Israel and many of the western nations and they are reported to be a threat to the safety of the Middle East and Israel with their believed covert nuclear warheads ambitions and plans which seemed to be based on proof less facts.
Mohammad Javed Zafri a former Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations said that after the Americans imposed sanctions on Iran, Iran became discreet with its nuclear program.
However, Iran can stop pursuing its nuclear ambitions by fulfilling its energy demands from other sources like using coal or oil or natural gas or maybe even starting a program that deals with renewable energy from wind and water and the Sun. Iran presently is the world’s 4th largest oil producer but its production has slowed down after the 1979 revolution due to political unrest and US sanctions and Iran’s export of oil is decreasing because of internal consumption resulting in a lesser economic revenue. Iran also has a large potential of possible gas fields in the Caspian Sea, Central Kavir and the North East but lacks the revenue and investments to utilize all of its resources. And with little cooperation with other developed countries and the withdrawal of many energy giants from Iran, Iran is turning to nuclear energy source it can totally rely on itself to support its pressured economy.
Iran satisfies 8 percent of its energy demands from oil, 75 percent from gas and 18 percent from hydroelectric power stations however with an increasing 8 percent domestic demand of energy every year Iran largely depends on investments form foreign companies and independent power producers to initiate its wind energy programs according to wikipedia.
Iran’s economy depends on energy exports to its land linked neighbours and when it exports energy it would not be able to suffice all of its increasing national demands without a loss to the national revenues. Even if Iran invests in hydroelectric power stations and dams it would cost them a lot more than to run an existing energy program but this can be solved if the international community offers assistance.
According to United Press International almost half of the companies working in Iranian energy sector have withdrawn after the US Sanctions. This has led to an energy deficit in Iran for its domestic and foreign exports.
To build a weapon Iran has to enrich Uranium fuel to weapons grade material with 90 percent Uranium 235 isotopes but according to IAEA Iran is capable of enriching up to only 4.7 percent which makes it pretty clear that Iran is only developing its program to diversify its energy production. In 2006 Iran tried to regain the international trust by signing the Paris agreement which specified that Iran would not import Gas centrifuges that help enrich Uranium which is used in developing nuclear warheads.
“Under the terms of the Non Proliferation Treaty, signatories have the “inalienable right” to produce fuel for civilian energy production, either by enriching uranium or separating plutonium. But the United States and other Western governments accuse Iran of failing to abide by NPT safeguards and of pursuing technology to produce nuclear weapons.” Council on Foreign Relation
If countries like Russia, United States and United Kingdom can work with nuclear energy why not countries like Iran, Pakistan and India pursue their nuclear energy ambitions too? What happened to the diplomatic talks and developments that now Iran and the international community has come to a stand-off. Iran has been continuously reminding the international community that its nuclear program is implemented to assist civilian development projects and increase its energy production. Pressured by sanctions and continuous threats of military actions from the United States and Israel, Iran strives to survive and develop their nuclear technology to help aid its civilian and energy programs.
Uranium just like Oil and Gas is a rare element and Iran has discovered enough to pursue its civilian programs. Suspicion, mistrust and very little communication is making Iran’s policy regarding their nuclear program more and more ambiguous every day. Their energy sector lacks development and assistance; if the international community can come together and help Iran utilize its oil and gas reserves than maybe Iran would be cooperative regarding its nuclear program.
Iran has every right to dig in and search and enrich Uranium to build power plants to produce energy and after billions of dollars invested in the nuclear program already it would not be wise to give up on their nuclear energy ambitions and start new investments in other sources of energy with a failing economy already with imposed economic sanctions. However they cannot hide their plans from the world forever they need to put aside their conflicts and they should work with the international community to build their civilian oil, gas and nuclear energy programs. No country likes to be too dependent on one another but sometimes it is better for peace and prosperity.