17 interesting facts about Iran’s nuclear program
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 19
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Today over 30 countries around the world use nuclear energy with about 440 operating nuclear power plants. The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of them, and that country specifically has been in the media spotlight for the last 10 years.
Why? Is it controversial? Is it dangerous? Should it be contained? As of yet, Pakistan is the only Muslim country with nuclear weapon. Iran, according to some world powers, is trying to become the second one.
There are at least ten articles being published on Iran's nuclear program all over the internet. The US and its west allies suspects Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies. The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons, using nuclear technology for electricity generation and medical purposes instead.
So, what is Iran's nuclear program that everyone talks about? Below is a list of interesting facts about what Iran claims is its "Inalienable right".
1. The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s during the Shah regime with the help of the United States as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program. Under the agreement, the United States agreed to provide Tehran with a nuclear research reactor and several power plants.
2. Why did Iran need the nuclear program in the first place? According to the Shah, at the time, the goal of the program was to save "valuable petroleum for high-value products, not just simple electricity generation."
3. First nuclear reactors in Iran were built under the program by American Machine and Foundry (AMF) - one of the largest recreational equipment companies in the United States.
4. The US and other European governments participated in development of Iran's nuclear program until the 1979 - the year, when Iran lived through a revolution, which had Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi overthrown.
5. Iran's nuclear program wasn't painless, so to speak. Former Iranian foreign minister Abbas Ali Khalatbari became the first to pay the price. Following the 1979 Revolution, he was arrested and sentenced to death on charges of corruption and treason. He was reportedly charged of wasting country's assets signing the contract to build the Iran's first nuclear power plant.
6. After the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of Iran. At the time, during the first several years after the revolution, the country's officials were against the nuclear program. New Iranian government canceled the US contract to build two nuclear power plants in the city of Bushehr on the Gulf coast. An article in one of Iran's official newspapers at the time said: "Nuclear Power Plants: An Obvious Treason to Our Nation."
7. Iran did have some period of time, when the government was pursuing nuclear weapons, in particular during the eight-year war with Iraq, however both the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei opposed nuclear weapons. Khamenei even declared a fatwa (religious decree), which called pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons as "grave sin".
8. In 1986 Iran bought its centrifuge from Pakistan then transported it in a private jet to Tehran, without Pakistani officials knowing anything about the deal. Pakistan's top nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan provided Iran's secret nuclear program with centrifuges for the first time.
9. Iran's nuclear program became public in 2002, when an opposition group revealed secret activity including construction of a uranium enrichment plant and a heavy-water reactor in the country. Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons, and spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor contains plutonium suitable for a bomb.
10. Once Iran's nuclear program started to gain attention, the country wasn't able to prove its peacefulness. This led to the U.S. and its European allies press Iran into halting enrichment of uranium, which can be used both for civilian purposes and for building nuclear bombs.
11. In 2003 Iran made a deal with UK, France and Germany regarding its nuclear program, and agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment, and allow for international inspection to take place on its soil. However, two years later, Iran stopped implementing the agreement, as the EU presented the country with "inadequate" proposals.
12. Iran's nuclear program, throughout the years, was considered fairly safe, yet between 2010-2012, at least four nuclear scientists were killed in terror attacks, which, according to experts, were set to disrupt Iran's nuclear program.
13. The first round of UN sanctions against Iran was approved in December of 2006.
14. The latest reports indicate that Iran has at least 18 known nuclear facilities, including uranium enrichment plants (Natanz, Fordow), nuclear power plants (Bushehr, Darkovin (under construction), research facilities (Esfahan, Tehran), Uranium Conversion Facility (Esfahan), Yellowcake Production Plants (Ardakan), uranium ore mines (Saghand, Gchine), and nuclear waste storage sites(Anarak, Karaj).
15. A 2013 Gallup survey indicated that 56 percent of Iran's adult population (total population - 77 million people), support the nuclear program, while 41 percent disapprove the idea.
16. Centrifuges are used for enrichment of uranium, which can be used for creating a nuclear weapon. Iran, as of current, has 19,000 centrifuges, of which 9,000 are fully engaged in enrichment activities.
17. Under the pressure of international sanctions, many spheres in Iran suffered a decline. In decline were: car manufacturing sector, medicine imports, aviation, oil and petrochemical sector, money transfers (banking), the country's national currency, tourism sector, decline in investments, etc.
Umid Niayesh is Trend Agency's staff writer, you can follow him on Twitter @UmidNiayesh