Iran will continue to enrich uranium regardless of whether a Republican or a Democrat is America’s president. At the same time, the United States will oppose any Iranian nuclear program – even a civilian program – because this will contribute to the stability of the regime in Tehran. As a result, nuclear tensions are likely to bedevil US-Iranian relations for years to come.
Iran, it is often claimed, has no need for nuclear power, given its abundant oil and natural gas reserves. But the Iranian government is under economic and political pressure to supply increasing amounts of electricity to its growing population and fragile economy. Using oil or natural gas for domestic electricity threatens oil and gas exports, which are the principle source of government revenues. Indeed, with domestic oil consumption growing at a higher rate than production, government revenues from oil exports are already in decline.
Thus, nuclear power will halt the decline in government revenues by freeing more oil and natural gas for export. Iran’s natural gas resources, if developed, would not be a substitute for cheap nuclear power, because gas is more profitable in other uses than in power generation.
The Iranian government fears that electricity shortages, slow economic growth, and high unemployment will turn the populace against it. As social tensions increase, political turmoil will follow.