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Iran is suffering a staggering decline in revenue from its oil exports, and if the trend continues income could disappear by 2015, a National Academy of Sciences analysis found.
Iran's economic woes could make the country unstable and vulnerable, with its oil industry crippled, Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in the report published Monday.
Stern's analysis, which appears in this week's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports U.S. and European suspicions that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of international understandings.
But, Stern says, there could be merit to Iran's assertion that it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes "as badly as it claims."
He said oil production is declining and both gas and oil are being sold domestically at highly subsidized rates.
At the same time, Iran is neglecting to reinvest in its oil production.
"With an explosive demand at home and poor management, the appeal of nuclear power, financed by Russia, could fill a real need for production of more electricity."
If the United States can "hold its breath" for a few years it may find Iran a much more conciliatory country