Iran's nuclear work seen rooted in politics Oil and Gas Journal HOUSTON, Oct. 11 -- The nuclear ambitions pushing Iran toward confrontation with the European Union and US have roots in domestic energy politics, says energy analyst Fereidun Fesharaki, senior fellow of the East-West Center in Honolulu. Doubting that an oil exporter with the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas needs to develop nuclear energy, western-nation governments suspect the work masks weapons development. In fact, Fesharaki said in a Houston lecture sponsored by the Asia Society of Texas, East-West Center, and Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Iran needs nuclear power and was discussing it when he was an energy advisor to the shah before the 1979 revolution. Heavy claims on Iranian gas production leave little of the fuel available for generation of electricity and for export, said Fesharaki, who also is president of the consultancy FACTS Inc. Those claims include a large and heavily subsidized domestic gas grid, gas injection to sustain oil production, an expanding petrochemical industry, and compressed natural gas to replace gasoline, which Iran also heavily subsidizes and imports in increasing amounts (OGJ, May 9, 2005, p. 34). Because political pressures in a nation with a young and growing population keep the government from ending fuel subsidies, domestic demand continues to grow, aggravating the energy dilemma. Fesharaki said gasoline in Iran sells for 35¢/gal, diesel 10¢/gal, fuel oil 5¢/gal, and natural gas 1¢/cu m. Like citizens of many other oil-exporting countries, Fesharaki said, Iranians believe that with energy, "For us it should be cheap; for others it should be expensive."
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