Archive for September 12, 2006

Notes on Iran and Uranuim and Kazakstan

According to Wikipedia Uranuim is mined in very few countries in the world. One of these countries is Kazakhstan a former Russian state which was left with two nuclear mines. Iran sits on the other side of the Caspain Sea from Kazakhstan. Basically, Iran’s enrichment facilities could take Kazakhstan’s uranuim and enrich it rather quickly. Add to this that as the market for uranuim fell in the eighties bottoming out at 7 USD a pound meant many mines closed (I’d assume Kazakhstan’s close proximity to China and Pakistan probably helped it survive plus it was still part of the USSR then). Now when nuclear became an option again in the early 2000s the price of uranuim soared to 52 USD a pound and in total over 35 million pounds of Uranuim were sold last year. Hence it’s a little bit over 1.8 billion dollars per year and growing. While Iran’s refusal of UN inspectors has certianly been suspicious, it’s interest in utilizing it’s geographic area to get into a market that’s price growth has been more volatile than gasoline is certianly understandable. As Wikipedia says, “The facilities for purification reside almost without exception at the
mining site, and hence those same five countries (without Kazakhstan)
dominate the purification industry as well.” The nearest refiniement plants to Kazakhstan appear to be in Russia specifically in Novosibirsk a town above Mongolia. Hence Iran is actually in a great position to become a major hub for nuclear refinement as the market continues to grow and taken the widespread middle eastern paranoia of an oil drop, it only makes sense to further diversfy their economy. While most of this has been pretty obvious since the whole fiasco began, it wasn’t really until today that I actually looked at it. I might add that shipping uranuim over the caspain sea actually might be more economic than driving it to nearly mongolia or flying it out to France etc. hence Iran’s enrichments facilities might reduce the energy cost required to enrich uranuim and also drive the price of enrichment down which would certianly help to convince people that coal might not be the best source for fuel in the future. I might add looking at it further Aqtau (in Kazakhstan) is closer to Nanantz in Iran by almost 400 KM than Aqtau to Novosibirsk in addition to being by ship and not by truck or plane. The logistics are good and the technology seems to be there, the only problem with Iran’s plans are the politics and their intentions.

NOTE: The distances mentioned in the last line are not exact, they’re based on measuring the 400km distances on one of the maps. Secondly, I do not know the actuality of politics or viability of this idea. It might be buying Uranuim for Aqtua is impossible for Iran or that Kazakhstan has developed enrichment facilities and wikipedia is wrong (another site says that Kazakhstatn has a large uranuim refiniement facility), but regardless the idea does make the nuclear projects in Iran sensible beyond the obvious well Israel, Pakistan, and India have nukes ideology and is also consistent with opinion polls showing that most Iranians believe their government really is just developing nuclear power.

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September 12, 2006 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

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