Jeffrey LewisEnergy Independence (Again) for Iran

A couple of months ago I posted an an unclassified report, The Economics of Energy Independence for Iran, authored by employees of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

I took it down, so as not to interfere with plans to publish it in The Nonproliferation Review and promised to post a link when Steve and company put the article on-line.

Well, here it is.


  1. hass (History)

    ….and note this:

    Prospects of nuclear power plants for sustainable energy developmentin Islamic Republic of Iran – Energy Policy 35 (2007) 1643–1647

    by Amir Hossien Ghorashi (Bureau of Planning and Projects Evaluation, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran)

    Available online 30 June 2006

    AbstractThis paper presents the feasible contributive share of electricity generation from each energy resources. This includes the economicalfeasibilities and all demographic projections involved in forecasting methodology, which explicitly reflect on overall national powerdemand projection in the Energy prospects of Islamic Republic of Iran till 2033. The Energy demand and reliability are presented with aview to elaborate on significant role and required capacity of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) towards fulfillment of an energy mix policy inthe country.

  2. Bill Arnold (History)

    The article is depressingly convincing. Sigh.

  3. anonymousd

    As prologue, I want to note that in making the following comment, I am not taking a position on Iran’s nuclear intentions. Nor am I engaging the question of whether a nuclear energy program is justified for Iran. (I do have opinions on both of these subjects. They are, respectively: nefarious and yes.) Instead, my comment is more in keeping with one of the major themes of this blog: the unrelenting attack on soft thinking, weak argumentation, and other miscellaneous stupidity.

    Whatever merits the other arguments in this paper may have, it is at least sloppy and more likely intentionally negligent to argue that 1) the continuation of sanctions make the nuclear program harder to justify economically and reduce foreign investment in other energy areas; 2) Sanctions will continue because everyone can see – based on the economics – that the nuclear program couldn’t possibly be for energy and Iran isn’t serious about building up other energy sectors to achieve energy independence. We know Iran is guilty because we have already found them guilty and that guilty finding proves that they are guilty? C’mon. Is this what we are paying the national laboratories for?

  4. Lurker

    More recently, the National Academy of Sciences published a report by Roger Stern that concluded that Iran does need nuclear power and that the sanctions on oil investment in Iran have made nuclear power a more attractive alternative. Sorta undercuts this article, doesn’t it?

  5. Binh (History)

    Any chance you can post that report Lurker or the URL for it?

    This report is somewhat convincing. If everything in it is true, why is Iran risking a war with the U.S. over its nuclear program, especially if it’s not economically sound and if acquiring nuclear weapons are 10-15 years down the road?

  6. hass (History)

    I don’t know the URL for the paper that Lurker refers to, but Roger Stern wrote in the International Herald Tribune:

    “The U.S. administration claims that a state as petroleum-rich as Iran cannot need nuclear power to meet its energy needs. Yet while Iran is guilty of deception about its nuclear program, it should not be inferred that all Iranian claims are false. Iran may need nuclear power as badly as it claims.

    Most Iranian electric power generation is by oil or gas. Cheaper power from Iran’s new Russian reactor will leave more oil for export. Rebuilding Iran’s aging gas-powered generators may not be much cheaper than building a new nuclear reactor. But Russia sells reactors to Iran on the cheap in an indirect subsidy to the regime.”

    Also, a purely economic view of the matter is short-sighted and doesnt’ take into account matters such as the strategic concern for energy security.

  7. Binh (History)

    I found the Stern report:

    I think what the National Lab study misses is that if Iran used its natural gas for power and skipped on its nuclear program, its oil output would decrease because they pump natural gas into oil wells with old equipment to boost output. Burning the gas for electricity would lead to an even steeper decline in oil output and revenue than they’ve experienced already.