Iran's Oil Industry: A House of Cards?
At first glance, Iran looks like an energy superpower. It is the second largest oil producer in
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It owns 11 percent of the world's
conventional oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia. It also sits on 16 percent of the world's
gas reserves, the largest reserve after Russia. A closer look, however, reveals that Iran's
energy sector is a house of cards. It is neglected, crumbling and underinvested. Oil may be
Iran's greatest strength, but it is also Iran's greatest weakness. As such, the debate in the
West on how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons should focus less on the risky
military option, or the seemingly ineffective diplomatic option, and more on a comprehensive
economic warfare strategy that targets Iran's energy sector. With oil exports accounting for half
the government's budget and around 80 to 90 percent of total export earnings, the surest strategy to bring down Tehran's Islamic regime is to break its economic backbone.
Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline: A view from Washington
In normal times, a pipeline connecting India and Pakistan would have been welcome news in
Washington. There is nothing like a multibillion dollar joint economic project to create
interdependence and hence reduce tension between South Asia's two traditionally adversarial
nuclear powers. But these are not normal times and with the risk of war in South Asia greatly
diminished, America's top foreign policy priority is preventing the proliferation of terrorism,
radical Islam and, above all, nuclear weapons. In this, the prime challenge is Iran, which defies
the international community by developing nuclear capabilities, supplies militias in Iraq with
weapons used to kill American troops, trains and funds groups like Hizballah and Hamas and calls
for Israel to be "wiped off the map". This is why the planned US$7 billion Iran-Pakistan-India
(IPI) natural gas pipeline – which would provide the Islamic Republic an economic lifeline at a time when the US and its European allies are trying to weaken it economically and also create an unbreakable long term political and economic dependence of India and Pakistan on one of the world's most dangerous regimes – is not to Washington's liking. Read about what the United States should do.
Ahmadinejad's Gas Revolution: A Plan to Defeat Economic Sanctions
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has placed Iran on a course to immunity from international sanctions by addressing its prime vulnerbility, refining capacity, with a three pronged strategy: building refineries, strengthening relationships with refined products exporting countries unlikely to abide by a sanctions regime, and most importantly, shifting Iran's transportation fleet from gasoline to natural gas.
The coming Sunni-Shi'ite nuclear arms race
As tension between Sunnis and Shi'ites mounts from Iraq to Lebanon another front is opening in the deepening strife between the two parts of the Muslim world: The race to acquire nuclear capabilities. With both nuclear Israel and nuclear Iran the West can no longer stop Sunni Arabs from pursuing an insurance policy against their staunchest enemies. This is not only another reminder of the destabilizing impact of a nuclear Iran but also that a dispute between the Americans and Europeans and their Sunni allies over the nuclear issue is in the cards.
Don't miss the NATO-IAGS energy security conference 19-20 July, 2007
Please join us as the NATO School and IAGS bring together representatives from policy making,
international organisations, academia, and industry to address these and other pressing
questions, and as public institutions seek to define the "security" of energy security.
Separate panel discussions will examine:
- Aligning the Security and Commercial Logics of Energy
- Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection
- Public and Private Risk Assessment
- The Security Politics of Energy Interdependence
- Energy and the Future Security Environment