IRAN @ 2000 and Beyond
In Cooperation with:
Institute for the Study of Earth and Man
at Southern Methodist University
Iran is a very important country of over 65 million people, in a geo-strategic location, that is little understood in the West. With estimated crude oil reserves of 92 billion barrels and natural gas reserves of over 600 trillion cubic feet, Iran has one of the largest proven petroleum reserve bases in the world. Although Iran is a major oil and gas producer, heavy foreign debts and the need for new capital injections from international sources have exacerbated the country’s already weak economy even with the present temporary high crude oil prices.
The current regime in Iran is faced with many socio-economic and political challenges as reflected by the ongoing pro-democracy student demonstrations which are yet another indication of frustration within the Iranian society. As socio-economic and political conditions inside the country deteriorate, and as internal unrest intensifies, accelerating turmoil in Iran could lead to significant changes in its political system and in its relations with the outside world. What happens in Iran will have a major economic, political and military security impact on the region and the world. Iran’s future and its role in the stability of the Persian Gulf region and Central Asia is of great importance to the international community at large, and to the United States in particular.
Iran @ 2000 and Beyond is a Lecture Series that was launched in May 2000, featuring political figures, policy makers, supporters of the democracy movement in Iran, scholars and various industry experts who will discuss and evaluate the socio-economic, political and cultural conditions in Iran by addressing the current situation and analyzing decisions, opportunities and policy directions. Attendees of the Iran @ 2000 and Beyond Lecture Series will obtain first-hand information on the state of affairs in the country, become better prepared to evaluate the prevailing political and economic conditions, in order to better position themselves for potential future opportunities in Iran.
IRAN @ 2000 AND BEYOND LECTURE SERIES
BY MR. W. HERBERT HUNT - MAY 18, 2000, DALLAS, TEXAS
On behalf of Petro-Hunt and the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at Southern Methodist University (ISEM), I am delighted to welcome you to IRAN @ 2000 AND BEYOND. This Lecture Series is being launched today by our keynote speaker, The Honorable Bruce Riedel, Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. I know that Bruce will be both informative and thought provoking in addressing this timely topic.
I would like to briefly elaborate on Petro-Hunt and ISEM’s rationale in conducting this forum. The Lecture Series, which will take place over the next several months, was organized with the objective of evaluating the current social, economic and political conditions in Iran. The Series is a follow-up to the conference organized by Petro-Hunt and ISEM which was held in Dallas, in May of 1996 titled Iran in Transition: An Economic, Political and Energy Conference. That forum brought participants from literally all over the world. The diverse group of speakers and expert panelists made that Conference objective, and provided an atmosphere that allowed an in-depth, lively and stimulating debate and sharing of views on Iran. Our goal is to accomplish the same objectivity with the Iran @ 2000 AND BEYOND.
As you are all well aware, Iran is a very important country of over 65 million people, in a geo-strategic location. Iran is an ancient land of contrasts, containing a diverse population with tremendous climatic and geographic variations. For centuries, Iran has been populated by various ethnic groups with different linguistic origins, and has been recognized as the melting pot of Western Asia. Above all, Iran is rich in both human and natural resources.
With estimated proven crude oil reserves of 92 billion barrels and natural gas reserves of over 600 trillion cubic feet, Iran possesses one of the largest proven hydrocarbon resources in the world. In addition, Iran has great unexplored and underdeveloped potential. Because of Iran’s tremendous energy resources and the country’s geographic position at the strategic crossroads between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, Iran will continue to have a major impact on the region and that of the world – an economic impact, a political impact, a social impact and a strategic security impact. The people of Iran are currently facing many socio-economic and political challenges. I cannot overemphasize that the country’s future and its role in the stability of the Persian Gulf region and Central Asia is of great importance to the international community, and to the United States in particular.
This being the case, it is very important that everybody – political and corporate policy makers, scholars and journalists – have an informed understanding of the events and forces, which are shaping change in Iran. This is precisely why we have gathered here today – to assist the process of understanding, as we share opinions on the wide variety of issues.
Petro-Hunt’s Vice-President, Mr. Darab Ganji, spearheaded the organizing committee’s selection and scheduling of speakers for the Lecture Series. Based on the confirmed list we are confident that it will be informative and of great interest. For those of you interested in more information on the Lecture Series, you can visit Petro-Hunt’s website at www.petrohunt.com.
We are very fortunate that Mr. Riedel’s schedule allowed him to come from Washington, D.C. to be with us – and I am now going to ask Dr. Louis Jacobs, the President of ISEM, to introduce our keynote speaker.