News / Middle East

    Report: Huge Costs, Few Benefits for Nuclear Iran

    Technicians work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, August 23, 2010.
    Technicians work at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, August 23, 2010.
    Reuters
    Iran will pursue its nuclear quest although it has reaped few gains from a totem of national pride that has cost it well over $100 billion in lost oil revenue and foreign investment alone, two think-tanks said on Wednesday.
     
    A report by the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Federation of American Scientists said Iran's atomic work could not simply be ended or "bombed away" and that diplomacy was the only way to keep it peaceful.
     
    "It is entangled with too much pride — however misguided — and sunk costs simply to be abandoned," the report's authors, Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group and Carnegie's Karim Sadjadpour, said of Iran's five-decade-old nuclear program, which began under the U.S.-allied shah.
     
    "Given the country's indigenous knowledge and expertise, the only long-term solution for assuring that Iran's nuclear program remains purely peaceful is to find a mutually agreeable diplomatic solution," the report said.
     
    Iran says its nuclear work has medical uses and will produce energy to meet domestic demand and complement its oil reserves.
     
    The United States and other states suspect Iran is covertly seeking a nuclear arms capability. Israel has threatened military action to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring atom bombs. Tehran denies pursuing nuclear weapons.
     
    The U.S. and its allies have demanded that Iran curb its enrichment of uranium and have imposed increasingly tough sanctions on Iran's energy, banking and shipping sectors that have cut Iranian oil exports by more than half since 2011.
     
    Iran and six world powers are due to meet in Kazakhstan this week in hopes of finding a solution to the standoff. Their last meeting in February failed to achieve a breakthrough.
     
    Pros and cons

    The report, entitled "Iran's Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks," seeks to tabulate the opportunity costs of the nuclear program, and puts these at "well over $100 billion" in terms of lost foreign investment and oil revenues.
     
    Relatively small uranium deposits will keep Iran from being fully self-sufficient in nuclear energy, it said, while Tehran has neglected to maintain existing infrastructure and develop other resources that could better secure its energy needs.
     
    For instance, Iran's 1,000-megawatt Bushehr nuclear reactor, which came on-stream in 2011 after repeated delays, accounts for just 2 percent of its electricity production, while about 15 percent of "generated electricity is lost through old and ill-maintained transmission lines," the report said.
     
    Iran has vast oil and gas reserves, but sanctions have forced major Western firms to abandon the petroleum sector, making crucial upkeep difficult. Iran's solar and wind energy sectors have also gone undeveloped, the report said.
     
    "No sound strategic energy planning would prioritize nuclear energy in a country like Iran," the report said.
     
    "Instead of enhancing Iran's energy security, the nuclear program has diminished the country's ability to diversify and achieve real energy independence."
     
    Public diplomacy recommended

    The authors recommended that outside powers engage with Iranians through "grassroots public diplomacy" and make clear what they could gain by compromise.
     
    "The Iranian people have been largely absent from the nuclear discussion," they wrote. "While U.S. officials and members of Congress frequently speak of 'crippling sanctions,' they rarely impress upon Iranians the concrete costs of their country's nuclear policies and the potentially myriad benefits of a more conciliatory approach."
     
    A lasting deal would have to include commitments by Iran to abstain from activities vital to weapons production, which could give confidence that Iran could continue to enrich uranium to low levels needed for power generation, it said.
     
    "There is virtually no chance that Iran will abdicate what it and many developing countries now insist is a right — a right to enrichment," the report said.
     
    Negotiators should also discuss less politically charged topics such as nuclear safety cooperation and alternative energy options for Iran, "increasing the chances of breaking free of zero-sum games and creating win-win opportunities," it said.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora