But the summary of the last meeting on the issue involving representatives of France, Britain, Germany and Iran says Tehran acknowledged what Washington and its allies have argued all along that the oil-rich country has no need for nuclear energy.
Here is the actual paragraph:
On the basis of economic and energy calculations, the Iranian strategy is to develop a 7,000 Megawatt programme. On the fuel cycle programme, no economic calculations have been made. Iran recognises explicitly that its fuel cycle programme cannot be justified on economic grounds.
That isn’t even remotely how AP described it.
Tehran did not acknowledge it has no need for nuclear energy. Rather, Tehran made an economic argument for the nuclear program, right down to sizing the program at 7,000 Mw. It is true that Tehran is pursuing an indigenous fuel cycle for strategic, rather than economic, reasons. But strategic, in this context, means energy independence—something we could use a bit of in this country.
The nationalist sentiment involved is obvious from the Iranian students who formed a human chain (pictured above, right; source) around Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation and the comments of various Iranian’s interviewed by BBC.
When our President says “dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security,” he sounds a lot like their President when he says “Iran could not depend on any foreign source [of nuclear fuel] forever.”
That quote, from Iranian President Mohamed Khatami, opens a fantastic article by Jack Boureston and Charles Ferguson in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Iran’s efforts to enrich itself by the bootstraps, to mangle a metaphor.
Late Update: For an Iranian perspective attempting to “debunk [the argument that] given Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves, it does not need nuclear energy,” this is a pretty thoughtful read.
Even Later Update: The thoughtful comment wasn’t meant to endorse the estimates on the South African program, which a reader noticed were not quite right.