Saturday, December 5, 2009

Iran's Need(?) for Power, the Natanz Underground Uranium Enrichment Site, and the IAEA

In today's news, noted and recorded:
"Report: Iran needs 20 uranium enrichment facilities like Natanz plant"
Xinhua, (December 5, 2009)

"Iran said that it needs 20 uranium enrichment facilities on the scale of its Natanz plant to fulfill its total electricity demand, Iran's satellite channel Press TV reported Saturday.

" 'We are in need of 20,000 megawatts that means 20 (times the amount the) Natanz (facility can produce),' head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi told Press TV on Friday.

" 'Now the government has decided to have ten sites with the same size as Natanz; of course, when I say with the same size as Natanz, it is concerning the amount of fuel that is produced, which is about 30 tonnes per year,' Salehi said.

" 'Each site will produce 30 tonnes per year which is enough for one nuclear power plant,' he added...."

"UPDATE 1-Iran says needs 20 nuclear sites - agency"
Reuters UK (December 5, 2009)

"(Adds quote, background, details)

"TEHRAN, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Iran needs 20 uranium enrichment plants to produce enough fuel for its nuclear power plants and has no plans to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

" 'To provide fuel for our nuclear power plants, we need to have 20 uranium enrichment plants,' IRNA quoted Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

"In a major expansion of its nuclear programme, Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites like its Natanz underground one monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Iran said on Friday it will provide the IAEA with the bare minimum of information about its plan to build new sites, a stance sure to stoke Western suspicions about its atomic agenda.

"Analysts say Iran will need many years if not decades for such a huge expansion of its enrichment capability.

"They fear that Iran's insistence on sticking to notification rules the IAEA considers obsolete will allow Tehran to skirt the system, heightening the risk of Tehran being able to 'weaponize' enrichment clandestinely.

"Uranium enrichment can be calibrated to yield fuel either for nuclear power plants or the fissile core of a nuclear bomb...."
I've made the point before, that Iran's Ayatollahs and their underlings are not all there is to Iran. (June 15, 2009, June 26, 2009,for starters)

That said, the Ayatollahs are running the country now, and apparently making a bad job of it. Iran is the fourth largest net exporter of oil in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. (EIA) And, if you believe the Iranian government, they don't have enough oil to run their electrical generators.

That could be true, actually.

Although state-run economies look good on paper, and have a very loyal fan base, they don't have a good track record when it comes to performance.

To be fair, the Ayatollahs didn't come up with the clever idea of running Iran's economy from the capital. The country's oil industry was nationalized in 1951, back when the Shah was still around. (GlobalSecurity.org) Still, under their management, Iranians experienced a rate of 28% annual inflation in 2008. (CIA) That's a bit high.

With the sort of inefficiency that comes with state control, it's possible that the world's fourth-largest net exporter of oil really doesn't have enough left over to make electricity for its people.

Or, maybe the Iranian government isn't being entirely transparent about why it wants to produce so much uranium.

Funny thing about uranium: its energy can be released slowly, to produce electrical power; or it can all be released in a tiny fraction of a second, to turn cities into cinders.

Considering the way Iran popularized catchy phrases like "death to Israel! Death to the Great Satan America!" - I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to consider the possibility that Iran's government wants to make nuclear bombs.

It looks like Iran has vehicles that could deliver nuclear warheads to targets in the Middle East, Russia, and Europe. (September 17, 2009) I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that the Ayatollahs would decide that the world would be a better place, if a few cities whose people they don't approve of were to vanish in a bright flash.

It wouldn't be the first time that a government that's been mismanaging a nationalized economy blamed the Jews and started a war: arguably, to deflect criticism of its performance.1

Related posts: Background:
  • "Oil"
    Home :: Military :: World :: Iran :: Introduction ::, GlobalSecurity.org
  • "Iran"
    World Factbook, CIA (last updated on November 30, 2009)
  • "Country Energy Profiles"
    Energy Information Administration, Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government

1 Germany's period of hyperinflation occurred during the Weimar Republic. National Socialist Germany fixed unemployment by putting people to work "regardless of whether or not their productivity exceeds their wage cost" - and didn't have to worry about inflation. "...The Nazi Government reacted to the threat of inflation by declaring a general price freeze in 1936.... ("THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF GERMANY," National Socialist Germany, Department of Economics, San José State University)

4 comments:

Teresa said...

Iran definitely must be watched closely. I believe that Iran's motives for wanting/needing more uranium enrichment sites is nefarious in nature. Being as Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, should the IAEA allow such a significant operation that could pose such a threat to the world?

Kcom said...

For your convenience, I alos discussed the situation with Iran on my blog
http://www.kauffmanscommentary.blogspot.com.
Please feel free to make any comments.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Teresa,

I'm inclined to agree. Although it's remotely possible that Iran actually needs nuclear power plants, Iranian leaders' lack of transparency and defiant attitude suggest otherwise.

As to whether or not the IAEA should or should not allow Iran's leaders to act as they do: It would be nice if there were an authority with the ability and the will to act.

As it stands at this point in history, the United States of America is - in my opinion - the only organization which fits that description. The United Nations, although founded on high ideals and a great deal of hope, seems to be a sort of combination bureaucracy and debate club.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Kcom,

Thank you.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

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In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.