How much does it cost to build a nuclear submarine? Oh, around $2 billion. Just chump change for an oil rich nation, right? The cost to build a nuclear power plant runs in the $20 billion range. Again, chump change for an oil rich nation. Naturally, that doesn’t include cost overruns caused by having your computer system twisted up like a pretzel.
But we’re not talking about an “oil rich nation” here. We’re talking about Iran, a nation that claims to have a positive GDP growth and a low national debt, but which has a B credit rating. Those two things don’t equate. The Iranian parliament has tried twice to impeach Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of his abuses of the federal treasury, handing out huge amounts of assistance to the poor to keep his voter base happy. Iran is up to its — okay, no jokes about how short President Ahmadinejad is — in sanctions that are driving inflation into the double digits and the unemployment rate as well.
Deputy Navy Commander Abbas Zamini was quoted in the official Fars News Agency as saying “Preliminary steps in making an atomic submarine have started and we hope to see the use of nuclear submarines in the navy in the future.” He further stated that all nations have a right to use peaceful nuclear technology. Peaceful? How is a military vessel “peaceful”?
Outside nuclear experts are speculating that the “nuclear sub” story is a justification for enriching uranium.
It takes a 90% concentration of uranium to build a bomb. Currently, Iran is concentrating uranium (or enriching) to 20% in those cute little centrifuges. A medical research reactor requires a 20% concentration, and aside from their nuclear power plant, Iran insists that they need the enriched uranium for such a reactor.
There are only four countries that have nuclear submarines, the United States, Russia, France and Britain. It seems kind of ridiculous for a country as small as Iran to engage in an arms race with those four nations. It has no current interests outside of its own region to justify wanting a means to circle the globe without refueling for defensive purposes, as those four nations have had in the past. It’s primary naval exercises are within the Persian Gulf, a body of water 989 miles long, just 35 miles wide at its narrowest point (the Strait of Hormuz) and 225 miles at its widest. It has an average depth of just 160 feet (300 feet at its deepest point), not exactly a depth where one expects to hear the words “Dive! Dive! Dive!” with any conviction.
The U.S.S. Jimmy Carter is 453 feet long, 40 feet wide and sits 10 feet deep in the water when it is on the surface. It tested at 320 feet submersion depth.
Just another day in Fantasy Land.