How Do You Fuel an Iranian Reactor? (Updated)

For the last several years one of the points I’ve made repeatedly is that, of the possible explanations for Iran’s pursuing its program of nuclear development, achieving energy independence isn’t one of them. Today the Times of London provides a little more heft for that statement. They report that Iran is running out of its current sources of uranium ore and may be looking for new ones:

It was shortly before Christmas that diplomats at Britain’s sleek new embassy on Kosmonavtov Street in the Kazakh capital of Astana received a confidential and urgent request. Iran, officials back in Whitehall advised, was believed to be close to running out of its stockpiles of yellow cake — a powdered form of uranium ore.

There were concerns that Tehran could be seeking fresh supplies to support its nuclear programme at a critical juncture — just months before intelligence experts expected it to have accumulated enough enriched material for a bomb. British officials were to urge Kazakhstan, one of the world’s biggest producers, to ignore any possible approaches to obtain imports.

Other prospective sources of uranium ore for Iran’s indigenous nuclear fuel cycle would include Uzbekistan, Congo, Namibia, Ukraine, China, and Pakistan.

Whatever you think the reasons for Iran’s program might be, it’s hard to make the case that Iran is pursuing nuclear power as a way of achieving energy independence when it doesn’t have enough indigenous uranium to fuel its reactor for its productive lifespan.

The picture above is a satellite image of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

UPDATE

The link to the paper on the economics of Iranian energy independence in the post of mine cited above is now working.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    A question: How old is their program? (I posted over at GE that the link for the report wasn’t working)

    There are other factors that we’re not aware of.

    Well here’s one: As a charter member of the “axis of evil” they seen what happened to the other 2: Iraq who didn’t have them, and what has happened to N. Korea who may or may not. (NK flubbed their one test) Obviously the NK situation is a lot more complicated than just the “nuclear” factor but the parrallels should not be ignored, for the plain and simple reason that the Mullahs don’t them.

  2. steve says:

    If you do not read the Army War College stuff regularly let me recommend the following from the Autumn Parameters.

    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/08autumn/elhefnawy.htm

    In it Nader Elhefnawy makes the case that nuclear power will eventually be needed everywhere. Even Light Water Reactors can, theoretically, be used to generate weapons grade material. I have some doubts, but at the very least, it makes dirty bombs possible.

    Steve

  3. mike says:

    Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran… We all know why they want uranium – the question is what to do about it. If no one else does it, you know Israel will.

  4. mike says:

    Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran… We all know why they want uranium – the question is what to do about it. If no one else does it, you know Israel will.

  5. tom p says:

    sometimes… my english goes to hell (and it is my first language).

    As a charter member of the “axis of evil” they seen what happened to the other 2

    should have read, “they have seen” and

    for the plain and simple reason that the Mullahs don’t them.

    “that the Mullahs don’t ignore them.”

    Hope you all enjoyed my flubs twice as much as I did…

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    They are doing this precisely for the same reason that Brazil and Argentina produced their Nuclear Programs: nationalist reasons.

  7. Richard Gardner says:

    Deja vue all over again. We had the same discussion here in 2006 where I thought it was racist to say the Iranians couldn’t build a bomb in ten years when white Americans could do it in 3 years 70 years earlier.

    I have no doubt that Iran needs more energy. I think they need refineries and nuclear power plants. However their nuclear research is 99% in the direction of bombs, not power (OK, could be 98% – my point being that their emphasis is highly enriched Uranium and Plutonium which isn’t needed in a power plant).

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    With a I.C.B.M. fuel rod?