Home » Economy » How great is the chance that Iran goes nuclear any time soon?

How great is the chance that Iran goes nuclear any time soon?

I think the chances are much lower now than Autumn 2012. There is a two-fold reason for this. First, Iran has been severely hampered by stiff economic sanctions imposed by the West, so now it is desperately seeking to get some relief and restore its people’s living standards. Second, after Russia annexed Crimea and its relations with the United States and Europe became challenged, the West turned to Iran with more than just a non-proliferation agenda. Geographically, Iranian gas is located much closer to Europe than Russian gas delivered to Europe from the remote gas facilities in the Yamal Peninsula. It is estimated that over the course of 10 years Iranian gas could replace Russian gas in the European market. In fact, today, Iranian gas can be transported through a gas pipeline in Georgia, that is built but not yet in use.

Hence, the West is taking incremental steps to rebuild its relations with Iran. Thus, for instance, Great Britain opened its Embassy in Tehran, and the US has suspended certain sanctions. Iran, in exchange for relief from painful restrictions, has allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have daily access to its nuclear sites and enrichment facilities. In compliance with an interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (US, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom plus Germany) from last November, Iran has stopped producing 20%-enriched uranium (HEU) and converted almost a half of its stockpile to low-enriched uranium (LEU) with concentration of 5%. During the latest talks in June between the P5+1 and their Iranian counterparts, Kerry said substantial gaps still exist between what Iran’s negotiators say they are willing to do and what they must do.
Even though the negotiations are still far from a final resolution to the Iranian nuclear program, hypothetically, once the West removes the embargo on Iranian exports, Iran will immediately start selling its oil and gas to Europe and Asia. This uptick in supply will help eventually bring down the world prices for hydrocarbons, which, in the long run, would be catastrophic for Russia.


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