SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Ayesha Abdul Malik Abbasi
The foundation for Iran’s nuclear programme was laid on March 5, 1957, when a “proposed agreement for cooperation in research in the peaceful uses of atomic energy” was announced under the auspices of Eisenhower’s programme. In 1967, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) was established, run by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). The TNRC was equipped with a US-supplied 5-megawatt nuclear research reactor, which was fueled by highly enriched uranium. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and ratified it in 1970, making Iran’s nuclear programme subject to IAEA verification.
After the 1979, the nuclear weapons programme was restricted/disbanded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), who considered such weapons highly objectionable, restricted under Muslim ethics and jurisprudence. In pursuance of that Iran has signed agreements/treaties for cancellation/withdrawal of the possession of the weapons of mass destruction and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Blusher was completed with major assistance of Russian government agency Rosa tom and officially opened on September 12, 2011. Iran has announced that it was working on a new 360 MW nuclear power plant to be located in Derzhavin. The Russian engineering contractor Atomenergoprom had said the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant would reach full capacity by the end of 2012. Iran has also indicated that it will seek more medium-sized nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the future.
In a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the United States Intelligence Community assessed that Iran had ended all “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work” in 2003. In 2012, U.S. intelligence agencies reported that Iran was pursuing research that could enable it to produce nuclear weapons, but was not making efforts to do so.
In November 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors criticized and highly objected Iran after an IAEA report reached to result that before 2003 Iran likely had undertaken/carried out the research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. The IAEA report details allegations that Iran conducted studies related to nuclear weapons design, including detonator development, the multiple-point initiation/starting of high explosives, and experiments involving nuclear payload integration into a missile delivery vehicle. A number of Western nuclear experts have stated there was very little new in the report, that it primarily concerned Iranian activities prior to 2003, and that media reports exaggerated its significance. Iran threatened to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA.
In 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency first reported that Iran had not declared sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities. Enrichment can be used to produce uranium for reactor fuel or (at higher enrichment levels) for weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, and has enriched uranium to less than 5%, consistent with fuel for a civilian nuclear power plant. Iran also claims that it was forced to resort to secrecy after US pressure caused several of its nuclear contracts with foreign governments to fall through. After the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement to the UN Security Council, the Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had argued that the sanctions are “illegal,” imposed by “arrogant powers,” and that Iran has decided to pursue the monitoring of its self-described peaceful nuclear programme through “its appropriate legal path,” the International Atomic Energy Agency.
After public allegations about Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear activities, the IAEA launched an investigation that concluded in November 2003 that Iran had systematically failed to meet its obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement to report those activities to the IAEA, although it also reported no evidence of links to a nuclear weapons programme. The IAEA Board of Governors delayed a formal finding of non-compliance until September 2005, and reported that non-compliance to the UN Security Council in February 2006. After the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement to the United Nations Security Council, the Council demanded that Iran suspend its enrichment programmes. The Council imposed sanctions after Iran refused to do so. A May 2009 U.S. Congressional Report suggested “the United States, and later the Europeans, argued that Iran’s deception meant it should forfeit/confiscate its right to enrich, a position likely to be up for negotiations with Iran.”
In exchange for suspending its enrichment programme, Iran has been offered “a long-term comprehensive arrangement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.” However, Iran has strongly refused to give up its enrichment programme, arguing that the programme is necessary for its energy security, that such “long-term arrangements” are inherently unreliable, and would deprive it of its inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology. In June 2009, in the immediate wake of the disputed Iranian presidential election, Iran initially agreed to a deal to relinquish/give up its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in return for fuel for a medical research reactor, but then backed out of the deal. Currently, thirteen states possess operational enrichment or reprocessing facilities, and several others have expressed an interest in developing indigenous enrichment programmes. Iran’s position was endorsed/accepted by the Non-Aligned Movement, which expressed concern about the potential monopolization of nuclear fuel production.
Interviews and surveys show that the majority of Iranians in all groups favour their country’s nuclear programme Polls in 2008 showed that the vast majority of Iranians want their country to develop nuclear energy, and 90% of Iranians believe it is important (including 81% very important) for Iran “to have a full fuel cycle nuclear programme. Though Iranians are not Arab, Arab publics in six countries also believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear programme and should not be pressured to stop that programme.
A poll in September 2010 by the International Peace Institute found that 71 percent of Iranians favoured the development of nuclear weapons, a drastic hike over the previous polls by the same agency.
However, in July 2012, a poll on an Iranian state-run media outlet found that 2/3 Iranians support suspending uranium enrichment in return for a gradual easing of sanctions.
President George W. Bush insisted on 31 August 2006, that “there must be consequences” for Iran’s defiance of demands that it stop enriching uranium. He asserted “the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah. The IAEA issued a report saying Iran had not suspended its uranium enrichment activities, a United Nations official said. This report opened the way for UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. Facing a Security Council deadline to stop its uranium enrichment activities, Iran has left little doubt it will defy/cheat the West and continue its nuclear programme.
In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave an interview on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” with host Tom Brokaw during which he said the United States needs to “ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran”. He said in his view the United States needs to make it clear to the Iranians that their alleged development of nuclear weapons and funding of organizations “like Hamas and Hezbollah,” and threats against Israel are “unacceptable. Obama supports diplomacy with Iran without preconditions “to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear programme”.
Mohamed ElBaradei had welcomed the new stance to talk to Iran as “long overdue”.
Iran said Obama should apologize for the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II and his administration should stop talking to the world and “listen to what others are saying.” In his first press interview as President, Obama told Al Arabiya that “if countries like Iran are willing to continue to pursue the uranium programme then Iran would be responsible for the dire consequences from the side of America.