In 2004, then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell strongly proclaimed "We do not understand why Iran needs Nuclear power with all the natural gas they have?" Yes, this has always been a very powerful argument, implying of course that in fact Iran is actually developing a nuclear program for other motives (such as to coverlty produce Nuclear Bombs)!
But, this month we heard a big announcement that Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years at a cost of more than $80 Billion, with the first reactor on line in 2022. Saudi Arabia projects providing 15% of its power requirements by 2032 with 17 GWe via Nuclear power.
Strange isn't it? Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer and exporter of Hydrocarbons, has begun a program without any questions, or concerns being expressed in Washington, London, Brussels, Vienna - yet, Iran can not (according to the Powell) have a logical argument for its program.
What is strangely ironic, is that the Europeans themselves who have been champions of Nuclear power (including Germany who originally built Iran's single Bushehr plant) - are at the same time announcing the abandonment of their own Nuclear power programs. This year, Germany permanently shut down eight of its reactors and pledged to close the rest by 2022. The Italians have voted overwhelmingly to keep their country non-nuclear. Switzerland and Spain have banned the construction of new reactors. Belgium is considering phasing out its nuclear plants, perhaps as early as 2015. And France, that is frequently heralded as a nuclear power model for the world, has declared under its new government of Francois Hollande that it will cut nuclear power's domestic electricity generation contribution by more than a third by 2025.
In fact, the battle last year to topple Ghaddafi in Libya and the battle today in Syria - are all proxy wars to ensure natural gas supply to Europe's growing natural gas powered power plants to replace all these abandoned nuclear power plants. The new government in Libya plans to expand an under water natural gas pipeline to Spain to expand exports of natural gas to Spain and France from fields operated by BP in Central Libya. And Syria sits squarely at the cross roads of not one - but three major pipelines that are being planned to supply natural gas from Israel (Leviathan fields in the Mediteranean), Saudi Arabia/Qatar (Safaniya / South Pars Fields) and Northern Iraq (Kirkuk, Kurdistan Fields) to Turkey's Nabucco pipeline which supplies Natural gas to Eastern Europe, Switzerland and Germany!
Interestingly, the Nabucco pipeline today is only running at 40% of capacity, and recieveing most of its supply from Azerbaijan's (actually Iranian) fields in the Caspian Sea. And interestingly lets see who are the financial backers of Syria's 'rebels': Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey ..and tacitly others! Yes, Turkey's pipeline was planned and built in 2004 with "war" in mind!
Getting back to Saudi Arabia's annoucement,you have to wonder how much power a nation of 19 million (with 8 million registered immigrants and 2 million illegal immigrants) truly needs? And why nuclear? And let no-one forget that there have been similar announcements of Nuclear plants in Qatar and UAE.
One use of power that will infact be growing in the middle east, is water desalination. And for sure, water desalination using RO membranes is an energy intensive and vital area critical to the future of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE ...and dare I say it, Southern Iran!
And why are these anti-Iranian nuclear arguments not relevant to Saudi Arabia? To tell the truth, Iran's idiotic (British backed) Mullahs have never properly articlulated (in english) a counter argument to Colin Powell's accusations.
Perhaps for the sake of clarity, I should take a few seconds and list a few arguments in favor of Iran's Nuclear program that actually was initiated back in the '50's, years before the Brits decided to put the Mullahs in power. (1) Diversification of power generation capacity away from fossil fuels (that can be exported) increases Iran's export revenues; (2) Nuclear power capacity is carbon free, and provides some risk mitigation as global sensitivity to carbon emmissions continues to rise (even despite Europe's stance with Nuclear power); (3) Ignoring capital costs for a second (which are highly variable), Nuclear power generation has relatively very low "operating" costs and is very competitive against other forms of power generation on a $ per KW generated basis; (4) Iran has Uranium mines in addition to oil and gas fields, to NOT use an indigenous resource for power production would be stupid - especially given the potential contribution of Nuclear power to the overall power generation grid. But Iran also have vast expanses with sparse population (deserts), and is facing similar issues in some areas as Saudi Arabia with having to produce potable water from salt water using energy intensive desalination technology and this means there is a good fit for Nuclear power in Iran - compared to other power generation technologies.
In some ways, sanctions thrust on Iran due to its 'nuclear program' have been a blessing to the regime in Tehran and their British backers. The IRGC and the Mullah's private foundations have maintained their stranglehold on Iranian industry and commerce - safely operating without competitive threats from imports. Indeed, sanction busting has been a spectacular business opportunity for them with their own private (duty free) ports, and smuggling boats - they have not only insulated themselves from price competition from imports, but also turned a threat into an opportunity by selling imported goods at inflated prices with their smuggling racket. And sanction busting via Britain's Dubai colonial outpost has been spectacularly profitable for the Brits, their banks, their shipping companies, their port services operations....you name it. Economic pressure on Iran has not added one iota of domestic pressure on the Mullahs and their mafia - and only serve to 'contain' the regime.
Might the Saudi's too be pursuing Nuclear power to develop a nuclear power in order to shift into bomb making as alleged about the IRI? Who knows? Is the regime in Riyadh secure (at a time when the US has basically completely cut back on oil imports from Saudi Arabia, and invaded one of its neighbors)?
Interestingly, Iran does have Uranium mines, and has now developed considerable enrichment capacity (near by). Iran could concievably sell fuel to the Saudi's, Qataris and the UAE ...with lower shipping costs than say delivery from China Europe or Kazakhstan! Or will Saudi Arabia too set up its own Uranium enrichment capability to feed its 20 plants.
Bottom-line, Saudi Arabia's announcement makes sanctions against Iran and actually Western leaders opposed to Iran's nuclear program sound hypocritical... Of all nations, of all regimes ... Saudi Arabia is definitely NOT the most transparent, NOT the most stable ... and as the presiding Secretary of State in 2001, Colin Powell (and his cohorts) need to ask themselves what passports the 9/11 plane hijackers were carrying when they hit the twin towers in New York! And follow that question up with another question, where was Osama Bin Laden born?
Now that is what I call hypocricy. Everyone in the world knows, this whole Nuclear saga with Iran is a joke, blatant bullshit - and politically charged with other objectives in mind, then to 'control' Iran's nuclear program. If people are looking for excuses to either topple the regime or invade Iran, the Iran's Nuclear program is a poor facade for an excuse.
Iranians - whether they are pro- or against the mullahs - actually popularly support the program. And I can think of many other better excuses and ways to apply pressure on the regime in Tehran. Why doesn't the West speak more loudly about the regime's human rights record? Or their selection of candidates in phony elections?
I'll tell you why. Because they will sound like even bigger hypocrites because they too are supporting horrible regimes like the regime in Saudi Arabia or Azerbaijan with even worse human right and democratic records. Or how about, the real reason, which is they want a nasty regime in Tehran that they can sanction and contain - while they steal Iran's oil and gas from the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. They want a regime too weak, and always on the defensive that is too scared to stand up and protect the right of Iranian and Iranian sovereignty. That is why!
And this annoucement from Saudi Arabia - only further exposes how ridiculous all the rhetoric about Iran's Nuclear program truly is.