It seems from the Washington Post quoting Roger Stern, an economic geographer from Johns Hopkins, is running out of accessible oil- to the extent that if the current patterns of underinvestment continue, there will be no Iranian oil exports by 2015. Its an interesting thesis- Stern puts this down directly to government action. He is quoted by the Post as saying that
What they are doing to themselves is much worse than anything we could do.
Its an interesting quotation and attests to what I beleive is the fundamental weakness of the fundamentalist regime in Iran. Many of us fear Iranian nuclear weapons precisely because the regime seems illogical. But on the other hand the very illogicality of the regime, the reliance on theology over either economics or empirically based analysis, is a weakness and will in the long run lead to the collapse of that particular form of state in Iran. That brings its dangers with it of course- but the image that we have in our heads of a strong Iran standing up to the US and bullying the rest of the Middle East maybe only temporarily relevant. Rather in my view we should see Iran as a weak bully, attempting to bluster its way into the modern world with rhetoric and nuclear weapons, unstable and prone to lash out- this is no superpower to threaten us, rather an unstable state run by people whose training is in religious eschatology not exchange rate movements.
The policy implications of this can be discussed another time- but I do think its important that when we do, we look on Iran as it is not as it might seem to be.
Hat-tip to Bereft for providing the link to the Washington Post Article.