Iran’s Nuclear Program: Recent Developments Page: 2 of 6
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- are still ambitious, particularly for a state with considerable oil and gas reserves.2 Iran
argues, as it did in the 1970s, that nuclear power is necessary for rising domestic energy
consumption, while oil and gas are needed to generate foreign currency. Few observers
believe that such an ambitious program is necessary or economic for Iran, including the
Iran has asserted repeatedly that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful, stating in
May 2003 that "we consider the acquiring, development and use of nuclear weapons
inhuman, immoral, illegal and against our basic principles. They have no place in Iran's
defense doctrine."3 Iranian officials have also insisted on their right to develop peaceful
uses of nuclear technology. President Khatami stated in March 2005 that ending Iran's
uranium enrichment program is "completely unacceptable," but that Iran would provide
"objective guarantees" of the peaceful uses of enrichment. Uranium enrichment can be
used for both peaceful (nuclear fuel) and military (nuclear weapons) uses. At the heart
of the debate lie two issues: doubt about Iran's intentions, magnified by revelations of
almost two decades of clandestine activities, and whether the international community can
adequately verify the absence of enrichment for nuclear weapons or should further restrict
access to sensitive nuclear technologies.
What Inspections Revealed
In 2002, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCR) helped expose Iran's
undeclared nuclear activities by providing information about nuclear sites at Natanz
(uranium enrichment) and Arak (heavy water production). In three years of intensive
inspections, the IAEA has revealed significant undeclared Iranian efforts in uranium
enrichment (including centrifuge, atomic vapor laser isotope separation and molecular
laser isotope separation techniques) and separation of plutonium, as well as undeclared
imported material. Iranian officials have delayed inspections, changed explanations for
discrepancies, cleaned up facilities and in one case, Lavizan-Shian, razed a site.4
According to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, "Iran tried to cover up many
of their activities, and they learned the hard way."5 Only in January 2005 did Iranian
officials share a copy of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's 1987 offer of a centrifuge
enrichment "starter kit."6 In November 2005, Iran finally admitted that the Khan network
supplied it with information on casting and machining parts of nuclear weapons.7
Iran admitted in 2003 it conducted "bench scale" uranium conversion experiments
in the 1990s (required to be reported to the IAEA) and later, admitted that it used for those
2 See statement by Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi at [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/
3 Statement by H.E. Mr. G. Ali Khoshroo, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International
Affairs, Second Session of the Prepcom for the 2005 NPT Review Conference, Apr. 29, 2003.
4 David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, "Iran: Countdown to showdown," Bulletin of Atomic
Scientists, Nov./Dec. 2004, vol. 60, no. 6.
s "Iran Was Offered Nuclear Parts," Washington Post, Feb. 27, 2005.
7 "Iran 'Hands Over Nuclear Cookbook,"' November 18, 2005, Aljazeera.net
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Iran’s Nuclear Program: Recent Developments, report, November 23, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc809587/m1/2/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.