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Iran’s nuclear power contributes little to its energy needs

January 22, 2023

Iran’s controversial nuclear program provides the country with less than 1% of its electricity, even as its citizens bear the burden of crippling economic sanctions targeted at controversial nuclear enrichment its leaders maintain is for power generation and other peaceful purposes. 

For the past 20 years, Iranians have faced economic and social pressures because of US, UN and EU sanctions as part of the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear power. As a result of its efforts, Iran’s government managed to cut a deal with Russia to build its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr. But, this power plant has failed to provide even a percentage point of Iran’s energy needs. 

In terms of nuclear power production, the country lags beyond its neighbour across the Persian Gulf, the UAE, which started to pursue nuclear power more recently with the full cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The results of these endeavours by Iran and UAE are shown in Figure 1.


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Iran’s nuclear power provides less than 0.3% of Iran’s total energy consumption. In the UAE, nuclear power provides 2.1% of the energy consumption, nearly 8 times higher than in Iran.

The UAE has managed to build three nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 4,035 MWe, compared to Iran’s 915 MWe (i.e. Almost 4.5 times higher).

As a portion of the energy mix, we can compare the impact of nuclear power in UAE and Iran in Figures 2 & 3.



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