Author : Gunmeen Bhasin

Issue BriefsPublished on Aug 05, 2004 PDF Download
ballistic missiles,Defense,Doctrine,North Korea,Nuclear,PLA,SLBM,Submarines

Truth Behind Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Programme

Iran’s quest for nuclear energy was initiated in the pre-Revolutionary era. The credit for the setting up of the first nuclear power plant at Bushehr, presently being built with Russian assistance, goes to Mohammed Reza Shah. He initiated the project in 1967 with the purchase of a five-megawatt research reactor from the US. He was instrumental in setting up the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran in 1974. Had the Islamic Revolution not taken place, the Shah had plans of building 23 nuclear power plants by 1994.

The Shah declared that countries like Afghanistan (after the Soviet invasion), Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were a threat to Iran. National pride and self-dependency was, and remains, the raison d’être for the Iranian nuclear development programme.

The only difference in today’s context is that Iran has narrowed down the list of potential threats to include the US and Israel. Increasing domestic energy consumption, a need to preserve oil resources and earn more revenue by exporting power generated by nuclear power stations are some of the other reasons cited to justify the nuclear development programme. Iran has plans of generating 6000-7,000 megawatts of
electricity by 2020.

Iran admitted that between 1988 and 1992, out of 7 kgs of uranium dioxide that was irradiated, 3 kgs were reprocessed for the separation of plutonium. According to Iran, about 200 micrograms of plutonium was produced in the process. The IAEA was, however, skeptical as they felt a higher amount should have been obtained.

The controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear weapon programme has been going on for the past two years. The initial cause of concern for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was whether Iran had the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. At present however, the Iranians suspect that the IAEA, instigated in large measure by their arch adversary, the United States, is determined to prove that Iran is a potential nuclear weapon producing state.

An analysis of the situation shows that even though the Iranians have not been entirely truthful in their dealings with the IAEA, they cannot be blamed solely for the present state of affairs. The repeated stance taken by the IAEA that the Iranian situation has in no way been “politicized” is supported by a contrary situation as depicted in the various resolutions passed by the Agency. The various IAEA resolutions not only reveal repetitiveness and regression but also opposing views between the IAEA, Iran and the US.

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