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Iran and weapons of mass destruction

Iran and weapons of mass destruction

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Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

is not known to currently possess weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

(WMD) and has signed treaties repudiating the possession of weapons of mass destruction including the Biological Weapons Convention
Biological Weapons Convention
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the...

, the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 (NPT). Over 100,000 Iranian troops and civilians were victims of chemical weapons
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 during the 1980s Iran–Iraq War. On ideological grounds, a public and categorical religious decree (fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

) against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

 has been issued by the supreme leader
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 of the Islamic Republic
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran and Twelver Shi'a marja...

 along with other clerics, while it is supported by others in the religious establishment. Iran has stated its uranium enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The IAEA has confirmed the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but has also said it "needs to have confidence in the absence of possible military
dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme." The IAEA has pointed out that Iran is not implementing the requirements of UN Security Council Resolutions and needs to cooperate to clarify outstanding issues and meet requirement to provide early design information on its nuclear facilities.

In a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the United States Intelligence Community
United States Intelligence Community
The United States Intelligence Community is a cooperative federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of the national security of the...

 assessed that Iran had ended "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work" in 2003. In 2009, U.S. intelligence assessed that Iranian intentions were unknown but that if Iran pursued a nuclear weapon it would be "unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013" and acknowledged "the possibility that this capability may not be attained until after 2015." Some European intelligence believes Iran has resumed its alleged nuclear weapons design work. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

 said he had seen no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran, while Russian President Dimitri Medvedev said Iran was getting closer to having the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has called for nuclear weapons states to disarm
Nuclear disarmament
Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated....

 and for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapon free zone
Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone
A nuclear-weapons-free zone, or NWFZ is defined by the United Nations as an agreement which a group of states has freely established by treaty or convention, that bans the use, development, or deployment of nuclear weapons in a given area, that has mechanisms of verification and control to enforce...

.

After the IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 voted in a rare non-consensus decision to find Iran in non-compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to report that non-compliance to the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

, the Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment
Isotope separation
Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotopes of a chemical element by removing other isotopes, for example separating natural uranium into enriched uranium and depleted uranium. This is a crucial process in the manufacture of uranium fuel for nuclear power stations, and is...

 activities and imposed sanctions against Iran
Sanctions against Iran
This article outlines economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against Iran, which have been imposed by the U.S. government, or under U.S. pressure by the international community through the United Nations Security Council...

 when Iran refused to do so. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has argued that the sanctions are illegal
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. The IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but not the absence of undeclared activities. The Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 has called on both sides to work through the IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 for a solution.

In November 2009, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution against Iran which urged Iran to apply the modified Code 3.1 to its Safeguard Agreement, urged Iran to implement and ratify the Additional Protocol, and expressed "serious concern" that Iran had not cooperated on issues that needed "to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program." Iran said the "hasty and undue" resolution would "jeopardize the conducive environment vitally needed" for successful negotiations and lead to cooperation not exceeding its "legal obligations to the body".

Overview


In September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors, in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions, recalled a previous Iranian "policy of concealment" regarding its enrichment program and found that Iran had violated its NPT Safeguards Agreement. Another IAEA report stated "there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities ... were related to a nuclear weapons program." Iran has claimed that the military threat posed by Israel and the United States is forcing it to restrict the release of information on its nuclear program. Gawdat Bahgat
Gawdat Bahgat
Gawdat Bahgat is a professor of political science at the National Defense University. Bahgat was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and earned degrees at Cairo University and American University in Cairo...

 of the National Defense University
National Defense University
The National Defense University is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy. It is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Navy Vice Admiral...

 speculates that Iran may have a lack of confidence in the international community which was reinforced when many nations, under pressure from the United States, rejected or withdrew from signed commercial deals with the Iranian nuclear authority.

On 31 July 2006, the Security Council passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend its enrichment program. On 23 December 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Iran
Sanctions against Iran
This article outlines economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against Iran, which have been imposed by the U.S. government, or under U.S. pressure by the international community through the United Nations Security Council...

, which were later tightened on 24 March 2007, because Iran refused to suspend enrichment. Iran's representative to the UN argued that the sanctions compelled Iran to abandon its rights under the NPT to peaceful nuclear technology. The Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 called on both sides to work through the IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 for a solution.

US intelligence predicted in August 2005 that Iran could have the key ingredients for a nuclear weapon by 2015. On 25 October 2007, the United States declared the Revolutionary Guards a "proliferator of weapons of mass destruction", and the Quds Force a "supporter of terrorism". Iran responded that "it is incongruent for a country [US] who itself is a producer of weapons of mass destruction to take such a decision." Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the IAEA at the time, said he had no evidence Iran was building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding "fuel to the fire" with their rhetoric. Speaking in Washington in November 2007, days before the IAEA was to publish its latest report, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz
Shaul Mofaz
Lt. General Shaul Mofaz is an Israeli politician who serves as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs And Defense Committee at the Knesset...

 called for ElBaradei to be sacked, saying: "The policies followed by ElBaradei endanger world peace. His irresponsible attitude of sticking his head in the sand over Iran's nuclear programme should lead to his impeachment." Israel and some western governments fear Iran is using its nuclear programme as a covert means to develop weapons, while Iran says it is aimed solely at producing electricity. For its part in the conflict-ridden Middle East, Israel is a member of the IAEA, but it is not itself a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is widely believed to currently be the only nuclear-armed state in the region.

History


The United States and Western European governments actively encouraged and participated in Iran's nuclear program, through the Atoms for Peace
Atoms for Peace
"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech delivered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953....

 program, and under the Iranian monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 of Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 on 1 July 1968 and ratified the treaty on 2 February 1970. The monarchy was replaced by the Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 in 1979, but Iran remains legally bound to the NPT and to state its support for the treaty.

There are various estimates of when Iran might be able to produce a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so:
  • A 2005 assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies
    International Institute for Strategic Studies
    The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a British research institute in the area of international affairs. It describes itself as "the world’s leading authority on political-military conflict"...

     concluded "if Iran threw caution to the wind, and sought a nuclear weapon capability as quickly as possible without regard for international reaction, it might be able to produce enough HEU for a single nuclear weapon by the end of this decade", assuming no technical problems. The report concludes, however, that it is unlikely that Iran would flatly ignore international reactions and develop nuclear weapons anyway.
  • A 2005 US National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimates are United States federal government documents that are the authoritative assessment of the Director of National Intelligence on intelligence related to a particular national security issue...

     stated that Iran was ten years from making a nuclear weapon.
  • In 2006 Ernst Uhrlau
    Ernst Uhrlau
    Ernst Uhrlau is the President of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst . After attending Gymnasium Eppendorf, he graduated from University of Hamburg with specialization in political science....

    , the head of German intelligence service
    Bundesnachrichtendienst
    The Bundesnachrichtendienst [ˌbʊndəsˈnaːχʁɪçtnˌdiːnst] is the foreign intelligence agency of Germany, directly subordinated to the Chancellor's Office. Its headquarters are in Pullach near Munich, and Berlin . The BND has 300 locations in Germany and foreign countries...

    , said Tehran would not be able to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb before 2010 and would only be able to make it into a weapon by about 2015.
  • A 2007 annual review the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London stated that "If and when Iran does have 3,000 centrifuges operating smoothly, the IISS estimates it would take an additional 9-11 months to produce 25 kg of highly enriched uranium, enough for one implosion-type weapon. That day is still 2–3 years away at the earliest."
  • The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said on 24 May 2007 that Iran could take between 3 and 8 years to make a bomb if it went down that route.
  • On 22 October 2007, Mohamed ElBaradei repeated that, even assuming Iran was trying to develop a nuclear bomb, they would require "between another three and eight years to succeed", an assessment shared by "all the intelligence services".
  • In December 2007, the United States National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimates are United States federal government documents that are the authoritative assessment of the Director of National Intelligence on intelligence related to a particular national security issue...

     (representing the consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies) concluded with a "high level of confidence" that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and "with moderate confidence" that the program remains frozen as of mid-2007. The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, but that intelligence agencies "do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons" at some future date. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said 70 percent of the U.S. report was "true and positive," but denied its allegations of Iran having had a nuclear weapons program before 2003. Russia has said there was no proof Iran has ever run a nuclear weapons program. The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen "maybe some studies about possible weaponization", but "no evidence" of "an active weaponization program" as of October 2007. Thomas Fingar
    Thomas Fingar
    Charles Thomas Fingar is a professor at Stanford University. In 1986 Fingar left Stanford to join the State Department. In 2005, he moved to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and concurrently served as the Chairman of...

    , former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council until December 2008, in reference to the 2007 Iran NIE and using intelligence to anticipate opportunities and shape the future, said intelligence has a "recently reinforced propensity to underscore, overstate, or 'hype' the findings in order to get people to pay attention" and that the 2007 NIE was intended to send the message "you do not have a lot of time but you appear to have a diplomatic or non-military option". A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence.
  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence said in February 2009 that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013, if it chose to develop one., and that US intelligence does not know whether Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons, but believes Iran could at least be keeping the option to develop them open. Mossad Chief Meir Dagan
    Meir Dagan
    Meir Dagan is a former Israel Defense Forces officer and former Director of the Mossad .-Biography:...

     was more cautious, saying recently that it would take the Iranians until 2014. German, French, and British intelligence say that under a worst case scenario it would take Iran a minimum of 18 months to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to build one, and it would have to first purify its uranium and weaponize its uranium. An anonymous source in the German Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) whose rank was not provided has gone further and claimed Iran could produce a nuclear bomb and conduct an underground test in 6 months if it wanted to and further asserted that Iran had already mastered the full uranium enrichment cycle, and possessed enough centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium. Physicists say that if Iran were to choose to develop a nuclear weapon, it would have to withdraw from the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and expel International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the country. George Friedman
    George Friedman
    George Friedman is an American political scientist and author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer, financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor...

    , head of the global intelligence company Stratfor
    Stratfor
    Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as STRATFOR, is a global intelligence company founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas by George Friedman who is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company...

    , has said Iran is "decades away" from developing any credible nuclear-arms capacity.

  • On 12 February 2010 US think tank expert David Albright
    David Albright
    David Albright, M.S., is the founder of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security , its current president, and author of several books on proliferation of atomic weapons. Albright holds a Master of Science in physics from Indiana University and a M.Sc. in mathematics...

     claimed that Iran was seeking to "make sufficient weapons-grade uranium", which was criticized by former chief U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter
    Scott Ritter
    William Scott Ritter, Jr. was an important United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, and later a critic of United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass...

    .

IAEA


The International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA) is an autonomous international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes.

On 6 March 2006, the IAEA Secretariat reported that "the Agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices ... however, after three years of intensive verification, there remain uncertainties with regard to both the scope and the nature of Iran's nuclear programme". However, the inspectors did find some sensitive documents, including instructions and diagrams on how to make uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 into a sphere
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

, which is only necessary to make nuclear weapons. Iran furnished the IAEA with copies, claiming not to have used the information for weapons work, which it had obtained along with other technology and parts in 1987 and the mid-1990s. It is thought this material was sold to them by Abdul Qadeer Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan , also known in Pakistan as Mohsin-e-Pakistan , D.Eng, Sc.D, HI, NI , FPAS; more widely known as Dr. A. Q...

, though the documents did not have the necessary technical details to actually manufacture a bomb.

On 18 December 2003, Iran voluntarily signed, but did not ratify or bring into force, an Additional Protocol that allows IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 inspectors access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment
Dual-use technology
Dual-use is a term often used in politics and diplomacy to refer to technology which can be used for both peaceful and military aims. It often refers to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but that of bioweapons is a major issue as well. The scientific reviews Dual-use is a term often used in...

, certain military-owned workshops, and research and development locations. Iran agreed voluntarily to implement the Additional Protocol provisionally, however when the IAEA reported Iran's non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 on 4 February 2006 Iran withdrew from its voluntary adherence to the Additional Protocol.

On 12 May 2006, claims that highly-enriched uranium (well over the 3.5% enriched level) was reported to have been found "at a site where Iran has denied such sensitive atomic work", appeared. "They have found particles of highly enriched uranium [HEU], but it is not clear if this is contamination from centrifuges that had been previously found [from imported material] or something new," said one diplomat close to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These reports have not yet been officially confirmed by the IAEA (as of 1 June 2006).

On 31 July 2006, the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

In late 2006, "New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium– potential material for atomic warheads– have been found [by the IAEA] in a nuclear waste facility in Iran." However, "A senior U.N. official who was familiar with the report cautioned against reading too much into the findings of traces of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, saying Iran had explained both and they could plausibly be classified as byproducts of peaceful nuclear activities." In 2007 these traces were determined to have come from leaking used highly enriched uranium fuel from the Tehran Research Reactor‎, which the U.S. supplied to Iran in 1967, and the matter was closed.

In July 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to allow inspectors to visit its Arak nuclear plant, and by August 2007 a plan for monitoring the Natanz uranium enrichment plant will have been finalised.

In August 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to a plan to resolve key questions regarding its past nuclear activities. The IAEA described this as a "significant step forward".

In September 2007 the IAEA announced it has been able to verify that Iran's declared nuclear material has not been diverted from peaceful use. While the IAEA has been unable to verify some "important aspects" regarding the nature and scope of Iran's nuclear work, the agency and Iranian officials agreed on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said at the time. In an interview with Radio Audizioni Italiane the same month, ElBaradei remarked that "Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat for the international community". In October 2007, ElBaradei amplified these remarks, telling Le Monde
Le Monde
Le Monde is a French daily evening newspaper owned by La Vie-Le Monde Group and edited in Paris. It is one of two French newspapers of record, and has generally been well respected since its first edition under founder Hubert Beuve-Méry on 19 December 1944...

 that, even if Iran did intend to develop a nuclear bomb, they would need "between another three and eight years to succeed". He went on to note that "all the intelligence services" agree with this assessment and that he wanted to "get people away from the idea that Iran will be a threat from tomorrow, and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb".

In late October 2007, according to the International Herald Tribune
International Herald Tribune
The International Herald Tribune is a widely read English language international newspaper. It combines the resources of its own correspondents with those of The New York Times and is printed at 38 sites throughout the world, for sale in more than 160 countries and territories...

, the former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen "no evidence" of Iran developing nuclear weapons. The IHT quoted ElBaredei as stating that,

"We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization," said Mohamed ElBaradei, who led the International Atomic Energy Agency. "That's why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks."

"But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No."


The IHT report went on to say that "ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran's alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so. If there is actual evidence, ElBaradei said he would welcome seeing it."

In November 2007 ElBaradei circulated a report to the upcoming meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors. Its findings conclude that Iran has made important strides towards clarifying its past activities, including provided access to documentation and officials involved in centrifuge design in the 1980s and 1990s. Answers provided by Iran regarding the past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs were found to be consistent with the IAEA's own findings. However, Iran has ignored the demands of the UN Security council, and has continued to enrich uranium in the past year. The IAEA is not able to conclusively confirm that Iran isn't currently enriching uranium for military purposes, as its inspections have been restricted to workshops previously declared as part of the civilian uranium enrichment program, and requests for access to certain military workshops have been denied; the report noted that "As a result, the agency's knowledge about Iran's current nuclear program is diminishing". The report also confirmed that Iran now possesses 3000 centrifuges, a 10-fold increase over the past year, though the feed rate is below the maximum for a facility of this design. Data regarding the P-2 centrifuge, which Ahmadinejad has claimed will quadruple production of enriched uranium, was provided only several days before the report was published; the IAEA plan to discuss this issue further in December. In response to the report the US has vowed to push for more sanctions, whilst Iran has called for an apology from the US.

In his final November 2009 statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but that other issues of concern had reached a "dead end" unless Iran were to fully cooperate with the agency. ElBaradei stated it would be helpful if "we were able to share with Iran more of the material that is at the centre of these concerns", and also said it would be helpful if Iran fully implemented the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement and fully implemented the Additional Protocol. ElBaradei said Iran's failure to report the existence of a new fuel enrichment facility until September 2009 was inconsistent with its obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. ElBaradei closed by saying international negotiations represented a "unique opportunity to address a humanitarian need and create space for negotiations".

On 18 February 2010 the IAEA released a new report on Iran's nuclear program. Ivan Oelrich and Ivanka Barzashka, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nontechnical online magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...

, suggested "the media has seriously misrepresented the actual contents of the report" and that "in fact, no new information has been revealed." They wrote that there was "no independent assessment that Iran is engaged in weapons work" and that this was "hardly the first time that the agency has discussed potential evidence of Tehran's nuclear weapons research". Iran's envoy to the UN atomic watchdog criticized Western powers for interpreting the IAEA report in an "exaggerated, selective and inaccurate" manner. PressTV reported that the report verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran and that Iran started enriching uranium to a higher level in the presence of IAEA inspectors.

In an April 2010 interview with the BBC, former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Western nations were seeking harsher sanctions "out of frustration". "I don't think Iran is developing, or we have new information that Iran is developing, a nuclear weapon today .. there is a concern about Iran's future intentions, but even if you talk to MI6 or the CIA, they will tell you they are still four or five years away from a weapon. So, we have time to engage," he said. ElBaradei further said the building of trust between the parties would "not happen until the two sides sit around the negotiating table and address their grievances. Sooner or later that will happen."

Alleged weaponization studies



Former IAEA Director General ElBaradei said in 2009 that the agency had been provided with "no credible evidence" that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but the New York Times reported in January 2009 that the IAEA is investigating U.S. allegations Project 110 and Project 111 could be names for Iranian efforts for designing a nuclear warhead and making it work with an Iranian missile. "We are looking to those suppliers of information to help us on the question of authenticity, because that is really a major issue. It is not an issue that involves nuclear material; it's a question of allegations," ElBaradei further said. ElBaradei has strongly denied reports that the agency had concluded Iran had developed technology needed to assemble a nuclear warhead, when a November 2009 article in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 said the allegations included Iran's weapon design activities using two point implosion designs.

The New York Times article cited classified US intelligence reports asserting that Professor Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is in charge of the projects, while Iranian officials assert these projects are a fiction made up by the United States. The article further reported that "while the international agency readily concedes that the evidence about the two projects remains murky, one of the documents it briefly displayed at a meeting of the agency's member countries in Vienna last year, from Mr. Fakrizadeh's projects, showed the chronology of a missile launching, ending with a warhead exploding about 650 yards above ground – approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was detonated." Gordon Oehler, who ran the CIA's nonproliferation center and served as deputy director of the presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction, wrote "if someone has a good idea for a missile program, and he has really good connections, he'll get that program through.. But that doesn't mean there is a master plan for a nuclear weapon." Outside experts note that the parts of the report made public lack many dates associated with Iran's alleged activities meaning it is possible Iran had a Project 110 at one time, but scrapped it as US intelligence insists. The Washington Post reports that "nowhere are there construction orders, payment invoices, or more than a handful of names and locations possibly connected to the projects." Former IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency didn't have any information that nuclear material has been used and didn't have any information that any components of nuclear weapons had been manufactured. Iran has asserted that the documents are a fabrication, while the IAEA has urged Iran to be more cooperative and Member States to provide more information about the allegations to be shared with Iran.

In August 2009 an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

 alleged that ElBaradei had "censored" evidence obtained by IAEA inspectors over the preceding few months. ElBaradei has angrily rejected claims from Israel, France and the US that he had suppressed the internal IAEA report, saying all relevant and confirmed information had been presented to member states. ElBaradei said he and the Agency have repeatedly said the rumors of censorship were "totally baseless, totally groundless. All information that we have received that has been vetted, assessed in accordance with our standard practices, has been shared with the Board."

On 16 November 2009 the Director General provided a report to the Board of Governors. The report stated "there remain a number of outstanding issues which give rise to concerns, and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme." "The Agency is still awaiting a reply from Iran to its request to meet relevant Iranian authorities in connection with these issues", the report said. The report further said, "it would be helpful if Member States which have provided documentation to the Agency would agree to share more of that documentation with Iran, as appropriate."

Russia has denied allegations of "continued Russian assistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program" as "totally groundless" and said the November 2009 IAEA report reaffirmed the absence of a military component in Iran's efforts in the nuclear field.

In December 2009, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

claimed that a document from an unnamed Asian intelligence agency described the use of a neutron source which has no use other than in a nuclear weapon, and claimed the document appeared to be from an office in Iran's Defense Ministry and may have been from around 2007. Norman Dombey, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at Sussex University, wrote in that "nothing in the published 'intelligence documents' shows Iran is close to having nuclear weapons" and argued that it is "unlikely that nuclear weapon projects would be distributed among several universities, or weapon parts marketed to research centres." A senior U.N. official who saw the document said it may or may not be authentic, that it was unclear when the document was written, and that it was unclear whether any experiments had ever actually been performed. The C.I.A. did not declare whether it believes the document was real, and European spy agencies also did not give any authentication to the document. Western intelligence agencies said that, if genuine, it was unclear whether the paper provided any new insights into the state of Iranian weapons research. "It's very troubling – if real," said Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council
Natural Resources Defense Council
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a New York City-based, non-profit, non-partisan international environmental advocacy group, with offices in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Beijing...

. The Institute for Science and International Security, said that it "urges caution and further assessment" of the document and noted that "the document does not mention nuclear weapons .. and we have seen no evidence of an Iranian decision to build them." Anton Khlopkov, the founding director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, said the media leak may be being used "as a pretext for inciting the campaign against Iran." Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov
Yevgeny Primakov
Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov is a Russian politician and diplomat. During his long career, he served as the Russian Foreign Minister, Prime Minister of Russia, Speaker of the Soviet of the Union of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and chief of intelligence service...

 has also said after the public publications of the documents "Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon". Russia's representative to the IAEA, Alexander Zmeyevskiy, has noted that though the IAEA is in possession of these documents, the IAEA's findings "do not contain any conclusions about the presence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran." Iran pointed out the claims had not been verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency and argued that "some countries are angry that our people defend their nuclear rights." "I think that some of the claims about our nuclear issue have turned into a repetitive and tasteless joke," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in response to the documents.

The Iranian stance


Iran states the purpose of its nuclear program is the generation of power and that any other use would be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

, of which it is a signatory, as well as being against Islamic religious principles. Iran claims that nuclear power is necessary for a booming population and rapidly-industrialising nation. It points to the fact that Iran's population has more than doubled in 20 years, the country regularly imports gasoline and electricity, and that burning fossil fuel in large amounts harms Iran's environment drastically. Additionally, Iran questions why it shouldn't be allowed to diversify its sources of energy, especially when there are fears of its oil fields eventually being depleted. It continues to argue that its valuable oil should be used for high value products and export, not simple electricity generation. Furthermore, Iran argues that nuclear power makes fairly good economic sense. Building reactors is expensive, but subsequent operating costs are low and stable, and increasingly competitive as fossil-fuel prices rise. Iran also raises funding questions, claiming that developing the excess capacity in its oil industry would cost it $40 billion, not to speak of paying for the power plants. Harnessing nuclear power costs a fraction of this, considering Iran has abundant supplies of accessible uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 ore. These claims have been echoed by Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter
William Scott Ritter, Jr. was an important United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, and later a critic of United States foreign policy in the Middle East. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Ritter stated that Iraq possessed no significant weapons of mass...

, the former UN weapons inspector in Iraq. Roger Stern, of John Hopkin's Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, agrees "Iran's claims to need nuclear power could be genuine".

Iran states it has a legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes under the NPT
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

, and further says that it "has constantly complied with its obligations under the NPT and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency". Twelve other countries are known to operate uranium enrichment facilities. Iran states that "the failure of certain Nuclear- Weapon States to fulfill their international obligations continue to be a source of threat for the international community". Iran also states that "the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons still maintains a sizable arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads" and calls for a stop to the transfer of technology to non-NPT states. Iran has called for the development of a follow-up committee to ensure compliance with global nuclear disarmanent. Iran and many other nations without nuclear weapons have said that the present situation whereby Nuclear Weapon States monopolise the right to possess nuclear weapons is "highly discriminatory", and they have pushed for steps to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament.

Iran has criticized the European Union because it believes it has taken no steps to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Iran has called on the state of Israel to sign the NPT, accept inspection of its nuclear facilities, and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. Iran has proposed that the Middle East be established as a proposed Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

On 3 December 2004, Iran's former president and an Islamic cleric,
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

 alluded to Iran's position on nuclear energy:

God willing, we expect to soon join the club of the countries that have a nuclear industry, with all its branches, except the military one, in which we are not interested. We want to get what we're entitled to. I say unequivocally that for no price will we be willing to relinquish our legal and international right. I also say unequivocally to those who make false claims: Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, but it will not give up its rights. Your provocation will not make us pursue nuclear weapons. We hope that you come to your senses soon and do not get the world involved in disputes and crises.


On 14 November 2004, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said that his country agreed to voluntarily and temporarily suspend the uranium enrichment program after pressure from the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 on behalf of the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as a confidence-building measure for a reasonable period of time, with six months mentioned as a reference.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly stated Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. On 9 August 2005 Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran and Twelver Shi'a marja...

, issued a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons. The text of the fatwa has not been released although it was referenced in an official statement at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Iranian President
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a 2005 speech to the U.N. General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 said "We are concerned that once certain powerful states completely control nuclear energy resources and technology, they will deny access to other states and thus deepen the divide between powerful countries and the rest of the international community ... peaceful use of nuclear energy without possession of a nuclear fuel cycle is an empty proposition".

On 6 August 2005, Iran rejected a 34 page European Union proposal intended to help Iran build "a safe, economically viable and proliferation-proof civil nuclear power generation and research program." The Europeans, with US agreement, intended to entice Iran into a binding commitment not to develop uranium enrichment capability by offering to provide fuel and other long-term support that would facilitate electricity generation with nuclear energy. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected the proposal saying, "We had already announced that any plan has to recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium". After the Iranian Revolution, Germany halted construction of the Bushehr reactor, the United States cut off supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and Iran never received uranium from France which it asserted it was entitled to. Russia agreed not to provide an enrichment plant and terminated cooperation on several other nuclear-related technologies, including laser isotope separation; China terminated several nuclear projects (in return, in part for entry into force of a U.S.-China civil nuclear cooperation agreement); and Ukraine agreed not to provide the turbine for Bushehr. Iran argues that these experiences contribute to a perception that foreign nuclear supplies are potentially subject to being interrupted.

Iran resumed its uranium enrichment
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

 program in January 2006, prompting the IAEA to refer the issue to the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

.

On 21 February 2006, Rooz
Rooz
Rooz is a Persian and English news website. It is mostly staffed by exiled Iranian journalists including Masoud Behnoud, Ebrahim Nabavi and Nikahang Kowsar with occasional articles by activists and journalists inside Iran, including Shirin Ebadi and Ahmad Zeidabadi...

, a news website run by Iranian exiles, reported that Hojatoleslam Mohsen Gharavian, a student of Qom's fundamentalist cleric Mesbah Yazdi
Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is a hardline Iranian Twelver Shi'i cleric and politician who is widely seen as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor. He is also a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader, where he heads...

, spoke about the necessity of using nuclear weapons as a means to retaliate and announced that "based on religious law, everything depends on our purpose". In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamic Republic News Agency
The Islamic Republic News Agency , or IRNA, is the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is government-funded and controlled under the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The agency also publishes the newspaper Iran. , the Managing Director of IRNA is Ali Akbar...

 the same day, Gharavian rejected these reports, saying "We do not seek nuclear weapons and the Islamic religion encourages coexistence along with peace and friendship...these websites have tried to misquote me."

On 11 April 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iranian scientists working at the pilot facility at Natanz
Natanz
Natanz is a city in and the capital of Natanz County, Isfahan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 12,060, in 3,411 families. It is located south-east of Kashan....

 had successfully enriched uranium to the 3.5 percent level, using a small cascade of 164 gas centrifuge
Gas centrifuge
A gas centrifuge is a device that performs isotope separation of gases. A centrifuge relies on the principles of centripetal force accelerating molecules so that particles of different masses are physically separated in a gradient along the radius of a rotating container.A prominent use of gas...

s. In the televised address from the city of Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

 he said, "I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology
Nuclear technology
Nuclear technology is technology that involves the reactions of atomic nuclei. Among the notable nuclear technologies are nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and nuclear weapons...

". It is worth noting that the level of enrichment to produce a nuclear bomb is about 90%.

In May 2006 some members of the Iranian legislature ("Majlis
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

" or Parliament) sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

 threatening to withdraw from the NPT if Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear technology under the treaty was not protected.

On 21 February 2007, the same day the UN deadline to suspend nuclear activities expired, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the following statement: "If they say that we should close down our fuel production facilities to resume talks, we say fine, but those who enter talks with us should also close down their nuclear fuel production activities". The White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

's spokesperson Tony Snow
Tony Snow
Robert Anthony "Tony" Snow was an American journalist, political commentator, television news anchor, syndicated columnist, radio host, musician, and the third White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush. Snow also worked for President George H. W. Bush as chief speechwriter and...

 rejected the offer and called it a "false offer".

Iran has said that U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at curtailing its uranium-enrichment activities unfairly target its medical sector. "We have thousands of patients a month at our hospital alone .. If we can't help them, some will die. It's as simple as that," said an Iranian nuclear medicine specialist. An Iranian Jew from California claimed "I don't believe in these sanctions... They hurt normal people, not leaders. What is the use of that?" Vice President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ghannadi framed the debate as a humanitarian issue, "This is about human beings. . . . When someone is sick, we should give medicine." Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that fuel obtained from Argentina in 1993 would run out by the end of 2010, and that it could produce the uranium itself or buy the uranium from abroad.

In February 2010, to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor
Nuclear facilities in Iran
-Arak:Arak was one of the two sites exposed by a spokesman for the MEK terrorist group in 2002. Iran is constructing a 40 MWt heavy water moderated research reactor at this location , which should be ready for commissioning in 2014, referred to as IR-40. In August 2006, Iran announced the...

 which produces medical isotopes, Iran began using a single cascade to enrich uranium "up to 19.8%", to match the previously foreign supplied fuel. 20% is the upper threshold for low enriched uranium (LEU). Though HEU enriched to levels exceeding 20% is considered technically usable in a nuclear explosive device, this route is much less desirable because far more material is required to achieve a sustained nuclear chain reaction
Nuclear chain reaction
A nuclear chain reaction occurs when one nuclear reaction causes an average of one or more nuclear reactions, thus leading to a self-propagating number of these reactions. The specific nuclear reaction may be the fission of heavy isotopes or the fusion of light isotopes...

. HEU enriched to 90% and above is most typically used in a weapons development program.

The U.S. stance



  • The United States argues that Iran has violated both Article III and Article II of the NPT. The IAEA Board of Governors, in a rare divided vote, found Iran in noncompliance with its NPT safeguards agreement for a 1985–2003 "policy of concealment" regarding its efforts to develop enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The United States, the IAEA and others consider these technologies to be of particular concern because they can be used to produce fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.

  • The United States has argued that Iran's concealment of efforts to develop sensitive nuclear technology is prima facie evidence of Iran's intention to develop nuclear weapons, or at a minimum to develop a latent nuclear weapons capability
    Nuclear latency
    Nuclear latency is the condition of a country possessing the technology to quickly build nuclear weapons, without having actually yet done so. Because such latent capability is not proscribed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as a work-around of the treaty this is sometimes called the "Japan...

    . Others have noted that while possession of the technology "contributes to the latency of non-nuclear weapon states in their potential to acquire nuclear weapons" but that such latency is not necessarily evidence of intent to proceed toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons, since "intent is in the eye of the beholder".

  • The United States has also provided information to the IAEA on Iranian studies related to weapons design, activities, including a the intention of diverting a civilian nuclear energy program to the manufacture of weapons, based on a laptop computer reportedly linked to Iranian weapons programs. The United States has pointed to other information reported by the IAEA, including the "Green Salt" project, the possession of a document on manufacturing uranium metal hemispheres, and other links between Iran's military and its nuclear program, as further indications of a military intent to Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has said U.S. intelligence provided to it through 2007 has proven inaccurate or not led to significant discoveries inside Iran; however, the US, and others have recently provided more intelligence to the agency.

  • The United States acknowledges Iran's right to nuclear power, and has joined with the EU-3, Russia and China in offering nuclear and other economic and technological cooperation with Iran if it suspends uranium enrichment. This cooperation would include an assured supply of fuel for Iran's nuclear reactors.

  • A potential reason behind U.S. resistance to an Iranian nuclear program lies in Middle Eastern geopolitics. In essence, the US feels that it must guard against even the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. Some nuclear technology is dual-use
    Dual-use technology
    Dual-use is a term often used in politics and diplomacy to refer to technology which can be used for both peaceful and military aims. It often refers to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but that of bioweapons is a major issue as well. The scientific reviews Dual-use is a term often used in...

    ; i.e. it can be used for peaceful energy generation, and to develop nuclear weapons, a situation that resulted in India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    's nuclear weapons program
    India and weapons of mass destruction
    India possesses nuclear weapons and maintains short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, nuclear-capable aircraft, surface ships, and submarines under development as possible delivery systems and platforms...

     in the 1960s. A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East, weakening US influence. It could also encourage other Middle Eastern nations to develop nuclear weapons of their own further reducing US influence in a critical region.

  • In 2003, the United States insisted that Tehran
    Tehran
    Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

     be "held accountable" for seeking to build nuclear arms in violation of its agreements. In June 2005, the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

     required former IAEA
    International Atomic Energy Agency
    The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

     head Mohamed ElBaradei to either "toughen his stance on Iran" or fail to be chosen for a third term as IAEA head. The IAEA has on some occasions criticised the stance of the U.S. on Iran's program. The United States denounced Iran's successful enrichment of uranium to fuel grade in April 2006, with spokesman Scott McClellan
    Scott McClellan
    Scott McClellan is a former White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush, and author of a controversial No. 1 New York Times bestseller about the Bush Administration titled What Happened. He replaced Ari Fleischer as press secretary in July 2003 and served until May 10, 2006...

     saying, they "continue to show that Iran is moving in the wrong direction". In November 2006, Seymour Hersh described a classified draft assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency "challenging the White House's assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. He continued, "The CIA found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency," adding that a current senior intelligence official confirmed the assessment. On 25 February 2007, The Daily Telegraph
    The Daily Telegraph
    The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

    reported that the United States Fifth Fleet, including the Nimitz-class
    Nimitz class aircraft carrier
    The Nimitz-class supercarriers are a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy. With an overall length of and full-load displacements of over 100,000 long tons, they are the largest capital ships in the world...

     supercarrier
    Supercarrier
    Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

    s Eisenhower
    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)
    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is an aircraft carrier currently in service with the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1977, the ship is the second of the ten Nimitz-class supercarriers currently in service, and is the first ship named after the thirty-fourth President of the United States, Dwight D....

    , Nimitz and Stennis
    USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
    USS John C. Stennis is the seventh Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier in the United States Navy, named for Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi. She was commissioned on 9 December 1995...

     "prepares to take on Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    ".

  • Iran has been repeatedly threatened with a nuclear first strike by the United States. The U.S. Nuclear Posture Review made public in 2002 specifically envisioned the use of nuclear weapons on a first strike basis, even against non-nuclear armed states. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has reported that the Bush administration has been planning the use of nuclear weapons against Iran When specifically questioned about the potential use of nuclear weapons against Iran, President Bush claimed that "All options were on the table". According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
    The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nontechnical online magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...

    , "the president of the United States directly threatened Iran with a preemptive nuclear strike. It is hard to read his reply in any other way."

  • In September 2007, Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice
    Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

    , U.S. Secretary of State, cautioned the IAEA not to interfere with international diplomacy over Iran's alleged weapons program. She said the IAEA's role should be limited to carrying out inspections and offering a "clear declaration and clear reporting on what the Iranians are doing; whether and when and if they are living up to the agreements they have signed." Former IAEA Director General ElBaradei called for less emphasis on additional UN sanctions and more emphasis on enhanced cooperation between the IAEA and Tehran. Iran has agreed with IAEA requests to answer unresolved questions about its nuclear program. ElBaradei often criticized what he called "war mongering," only to be told by Rice to mind his business.

  • In December 2007, the United States National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimates are United States federal government documents that are the authoritative assessment of the Director of National Intelligence on intelligence related to a particular national security issue...

     (which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies) concluded, with a "high level of confidence", that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen. The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade but that intelligence agencies "do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons" at some future date. Senator Harry Reid
    Harry Reid
    Harry Mason Reid is the senior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since 1987. A member of the Democratic Party, he has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader and Minority and Majority Whip.Previously, Reid was a member of the U.S...

    , the majority leader
    Party leaders of the United States Senate
    The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive...

    , said he hoped the administration would "appropriately adjust its rhetoric and policy".

  • In November 2008, it was reported that the US State Department had opened an Office of Iranian Affairs (OIA) – overseen by Elizabeth Cheney
    Elizabeth Cheney
    Elizabeth Cheney Perry , commonly called Liz, is an American attorney. During the George W. Bush administration years, she held positions in the State Department of the United States...

    , the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney
    Dick Cheney
    Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

    . The U.S. partially defined the office's mission as "to promote a democratic transition in the Islamic republic" and to help "defeat" the Iranian regime. Iran has argued the office was tasked with drawing up plans to overthrow its government. One Iranian reformer said after the office opened that many "partners are simply too afraid to work with us anymore", and that the office had "a chilling effect". The US Congress has reportedly appropriated more than $120 million to fund the project. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also revealed in July 2008 Congress also agreed to a $400-million funding request for a major escalation in covert operations inside Iran.

  • On 2 February 2009, the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Iran launched its first domestically produced satellite Omid
    Omid
    Omid is a common Persian male given name, meaning hope...

     (meaning "Hope") in to space. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the successful launching of the Omid data-processing satellite as a very big source of pride for Iran and said the project improved Iran's status in the world. The United States claimed Iran's activities could be linked to the development of a military nuclear capability and that the activities were of "great concern". The U.S. specifically said it would continue "to address the threats posed by Iran, including those related to its missile and nuclear programs." Despite the U.S. saying it would use all elements of its national power to deal with Tehran's actions, Iran said the launch was a step to remove the scientific monopoly certain world countries are trying to impose on the world. Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said Iraq was very pleased with the launch of Iran's peaceful data-processing national satellite.

  • In March 2009, Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations
    Council on Foreign Relations
    The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

    , wrote that U.S. policy must be thoroughly multilateral and suggested recognizing Iranian enrichment while getting Iran to agree to limits on its enrichment. "In return, some of the current sanctions in place would be suspended. In addition, Iran should be offered assured access to adequate supplies of nuclear fuel for the purpose of producing electricity. Normalization of political ties could be part of the equation," Haass said. In October 2009, Ploughshares Fund
    Ploughshares Fund
    The Ploughshares Fund is a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of war, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. Ploughshares is a 501...

     President Joseph Cirincione outlined "five persistent myths about Iran's nuclear program": that Iran is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon, that a military strike would knock out Iran's program, that "we can cripple Iran with sanctions", that a new government in Iran would abandon the nuclear program, and that Iran is the main nuclear threat in the Middle East.

  • In 2009, Independent U.S. Security Consultant Linton F. Brooks
    Linton Brooks
    Linton Forrestall Brooks is a former US Ambassador and former Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration .-Biography:...

     wrote that in an ideal future "Iran has abandoned its plans for nuclear weapons due to consistent international pressure under joint U.S.–Russian leadership. Iran has implemented the Additional Protocol and developed commercial nuclear power under strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards using a fuel leasing approach with fuel supplied by Russia and spent fuel returned to Russia."

  • A 2009 U.S. congressional research
    Congressional Research Service
    The Congressional Research Service , known as "Congress's think tank", is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works exclusively and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a...

     paper says U.S. intelligence
    United States Intelligence Community
    The United States Intelligence Community is a cooperative federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection of the national security of the...

     believes Iran ended "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work" in 2003. The intelligence consensus was affirmed by leaders of the U.S. intelligence community. Some advisors within the Obama administration reaffirmed the intelligence conclusions, while other "top advisers" in the Obama administration "say they no longer believe" the key finding of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate". Thomas Fingar
    Thomas Fingar
    Charles Thomas Fingar is a professor at Stanford University. In 1986 Fingar left Stanford to join the State Department. In 2005, he moved to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and concurrently served as the Chairman of...

    , former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council until December 2008, said that the original 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran "became contentious, in part, because the White House instructed the Intelligence Community to release an unclassified version of the report's key judgments but declined to take responsibility for ordering its release."

  • Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in January 2010 that there is no evidence that Iran has made a decision to build a nuclear weapon and that the key findings of a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate are all still correct.

  • On 20 July 2011, Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and House Intelligence Committee staff member, took issue with a February 2011 revision of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimate
    National Intelligence Estimates are United States federal government documents that are the authoritative assessment of the Director of National Intelligence on intelligence related to a particular national security issue...

     on Iran's nuclear weapons program in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled "America's Intelligence Denial on Iran." In the op-ed, Fleitz claimed the new estimate had serious problems and underplayed the threat from Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons program much as the 2007 version did. However, Fleitz stated that he was not permitted by CIA censors to discuss his specific concerns about the estimate. Fleitz also claimed the estimate had a four-member outside review board that he viewed as biased since three of the reviewers held the same ideological and political views and two of them were from the same Washington DC think tank. He noted that the CIA prevented him from releasing the names of the outside reviewers of the 2011 Iran estimate.

Other international responses


The claims and counter claims have put an immense amount of pressure on Iran to reveal all aspects of its nuclear program to date. Iran has been slow to respond, claiming the pressure is solely an attempt by the US government to prevent it from obtaining nuclear technology.

United Nations


In 2009, the United Nations built a seismic monitoring station in Turkmenistan near its border with Iran, to detect tremors from nuclear explosions. The UN Security Council has demanded Iran freeze all forms of uranium enrichment. Iran has argued these demands unfairly compel it to abandon its rights under the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty to peaceful nuclear technology for civilian energy purposes.

On 29 December 2009, Zongo Saidou, a sanctions advisor for the U.N., said that as far as he knew, none of the U.N.'s member nations had alerted the sanctions committee about allegations of sales of uranium to Iran from Kazakhstan. "We don't have any official information yet regarding this kind of exchange between the two countries," Saidou said. "I don't have any information; I don't have any proof," Saidou said. An intelligence report from an unknown country alleged that rogue employees of Kazakhstan were prepared to sell Iran 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore in violation of UN Security Council sanctions. Russia said it had no knowledge of an alleged Iranian plan to import purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan denied the reports. "Such fabrications of news are part of the psychological warfare (against Iran) to serve the political interests of the hegemonic powers," Iran said. Askar Abdrahmanov, the official representative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said "the references to the anonymous sources and unknown documents show groundlessness of these insinuations."

China



The Chinese Foreign Ministry
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China is an executive agency responsible for foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and other countries in the world. The agency is led by the Foreign Minister. The current minister is Yang Jiechi...

 supports the peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomacy and negotiations. In May 2006 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao stated "As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran enjoys the right to peaceful use of nuclear power, but it should also fulfil its corresponding responsibility and commitment". He added "It is urgently needed that Iran should fully cooperate with the IAEA and regain the confidence of the international community in its nuclear program".

In April 2008, several news agencies reported that China had supplied the IAEA with intelligence on Iran's nuclear program following a report by Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 reporter George Jahn based on anonymous diplomatic sources. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu
Jiang Yu
Jiang Yu is the current Foreign Ministry Spokesperson for the People's Republic of China.- Biography :A native of Beijing, she has been working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over twenty years and she had been posted around the world, including the United Nations Headquarters in New York...

 described these reports as "completely groundless and out of ulterior motives".

In January 2010, China reiterated its calls for diplomatic efforts on the Iran nuclear issue over sanctions. "Dialogue and negotiations are the right ways of properly solving the Iran nuclear issue, and there is still room for diplomatic efforts," said Chinese spokesperson Jiang Yu. "We hope the relevant parties take more flexible and pragmatic measures and step up diplomatic efforts in a bid to resume talks as soon as possible," said Jiang.

When speaking about Iran's nuclear program and China's foreign policy in the Middle East, Yin Gang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has said that "China will not stop Israel if it decides to attack Iran."

France



On 16 February 2006 French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy
Philippe Douste-Blazy
Philippe Douste-Blazy is a French centre-right politician. He served as Minister for Health , Minister of Culture and Foreign Minister in the cabinet of Dominique de Villepin .Douste-Blazy is also a cardiologist and Christian Democrat politician from Lourdes...

 said "No civilian nuclear programme can explain the Iranian nuclear programme. It is a clandestine military nuclear programme."

In January 2007, former French President Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

, speaking "off the record" to reporters from The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, indicated that if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon, the weapon could not be used. Chirac alluded to mutually assured destruction when he stated:
"Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed."

Russia



In 2005, Russian Advisor to Minister of Atomic Energy Lev Ryabev asserted that "neither the signing by Iran of the NPT, the adoption of the Additional Protocol (which provides for the right of inspection of any facility at any time with no prior notice), placement of nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, nor Russia's and Iran's commitments to repatriate spent nuclear fuel to Russia is seen as a good enough argument by the United States." Ryabev argued that "at the same time, such requirements are not imposed on, for example, Brazil, which has been developing its nuclear power industry and nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment."

On 5 December 2007 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov is the Foreign Minister of Russia. Prior to that, Lavrov was a Soviet diplomat and Russia's ambassador to the United Nations from 1994 to 2004. Lavrov speaks Russian, English, French and Sinhala....

 said he had seen no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran, no matter how old. On 16 October 2007 Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

 visited Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, Iran to participate in the Second Caspian Summit, where he met with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At a press conference after the summit Putin said that "Iran has the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programs without any restrictions".

In 2009, Russian Major-General Pavel S. Zolotarev argued Iran's security could be partially be assured by supplying Iran with modern missile and air defense systems and offering for Iran to take part in the work of one of the data exchange centers in exchange for "concrete non-proliferation obligations".

In May 2009, the EastWest Institute
EastWest Institute
The EastWest Institute , originally known as the Institute for East West Security Studies, is an international not-for-profit, non-partisan "think and do" tank focusing on international conflict resolution through a variety of means, including track 2 diplomacy and track 1.5 diplomacy , hosting...

 released a joint U.S.-Russian Threat Assessment on Iran's Nuclear and Missile Potential. The report concluded that there was "no IRBM/ICBM threat from Iran and that such a threat, even if it were to emerge, is not imminent." The report said there was no specific evidence that Iran was seeking the ability to attack Europe and that "it is indeed difficult to imagine the circumstances in which Iran would do so." The report said if Iran did pursue this capability, it would need six to eight years to develop a missile capable of carrying a 1,000 kilogram warhead 2,000 kilometers. The report said Iran ending "IAEA containment and surveillance of the nuclear material and all installed cascades at the Fuel Enrichment Plan" might serve as an early warning of Iranian intentions.

In December 2009, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Iran nuclear issue would be resolved by diplomatic methods exclusively. "It is absolutely clear that the problem can be settled exclusively by political and diplomatic methods and any other scenarios, especially use-of-force scenarios, are completely unacceptable," Lavrov said. Yevgeny Primakov, a former Russian prime minister considered the doyen of Moscow's Middle East experts, said he did not believe that Iran had made a decision to acquire nuclear weapons. Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb," Primakov said.

United Kingdom



The United Kingdom is part of the EU3+3 (UK, France, Germany, US, China and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

) group of countries that are engaged in ongoing discussions with Iran.
The UK is therefore one of the countries that has stated that Iran would be provided with enriched fuel and support to develop a modern nuclear power program if it, in the words of the Foreign Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 spokesperson "suspends all enrichment related activities, answer all the outstanding issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme and implement the additional protocol agreed with the IAEA".
The UK (with China, France, Germany and Russia) put forward the three Security Council resolutions that have been passed in the UN.

On 8 May 2006, Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief of British Land Forces, General Sir Hugh Beach, former Cabinet Ministers, scientists and campaigners joined a delegation to Downing Street opposing military intervention in Iran. The delegation delivered two letters to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1,800 physicists warning that the military intervention and the use of nuclear weapons would have disastrous consequences for the security of Britain and the rest of world. The letters carried the signatures of academics, politicians and scientists including some of 5 physicists who are Nobel Laureates.
CASMII delegation

Israel



Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, which is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 and which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s, has frequently claimed that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Arguing an "existential threat from Iran", Israel has issued several veiled and explicit threats to attack Iran. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US's Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

, has cautioned that an Israeli air attack on Iran would be high-risk and warned against Israel striking Iran.

George Friedman
George Friedman
George Friedman is an American political scientist and author. He is the founder, chief intelligence officer, financial overseer, and CEO of the private intelligence corporation Stratfor...

, head of the global intelligence company Stratfor
Stratfor
Strategic Forecasting, Inc., more commonly known as STRATFOR, is a global intelligence company founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas by George Friedman who is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company...

, has said Iran is "decades away" from developing any credible nuclear-arms capacity and that an attack on Iran would have grave repercussions for the global economy. If Iran ever did develop nuclear weapons, Israeli academic Avner Cohen
Avner Cohen
Avner Cohen is writer, historian, and professor, and is well known for his works on nuclear weapons. Cohen received a B.A. in Philosophy from Tel Aviv University in 1975. He went on to study at York University where he received an M.A. in Philosophy in 1977 and four years later earned a Ph.D....

 has observed "that the prospect of a deliberate Iranian first nuclear strike on Israel, an out-of the-blue scenario, is virtually nonexistent... [T]he chances of Iran – or for that matter any other nuclear power – unleashing a nuclear strike against Israel, which has nuclear capabilities itself, strike me as close to zero."

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post has written that Israel's stance on nuclear arms complicates efforts against Iran. Gawdat Bahgat
Gawdat Bahgat
Gawdat Bahgat is a professor of political science at the National Defense University. Bahgat was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and earned degrees at Cairo University and American University in Cairo...

 of the National Defense University
National Defense University
The National Defense University is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy. It is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Navy Vice Admiral...

 believes Iran's nuclear program is partially formed on the potential threat of a nuclear Israel. Iran and the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 have proposed the that the Middle East be established as a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Israel said in May 2010 it would not consider taking part in nuclear weapon-free zone discussions or joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The UN Security Council has also pushed for a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East, and has urged all countries to sign and adhere the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In May 2010, Israel reportedly deployed Dolphin class submarine
Dolphin class submarine
The Type 800 Dolphin class is a diesel-electric submarine developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG , Germany for the Israeli Navy. It is based on the export-only German 209 class submarines, but modified and reduced and is thus not seen as a member of the 209 family...

s with nuclear missiles capable of reaching any target in Iran in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. Their reported missions were to deter Iran, gather intelligence, and to potentially land Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

 agents on the Iranian coast.

Netherlands


According to a Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 newspaper, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 had launched an operation to infiltrate and sabotage the Iranian weapons industry, but ended the operation due to increasing fears of an American or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Islamic world


The A.Q. Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan
Abdul Qadeer Khan , also known in Pakistan as Mohsin-e-Pakistan , D.Eng, Sc.D, HI, NI , FPAS; more widely known as Dr. A. Q...

 network, established to procure equipment and material for Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

's nuclear weapons program
Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction
Pakistan began focusing on nuclear weapons development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who delegated the program to the Chairman of PAEC Munir Ahmad Khan...

 (gas-centrifuge based programme)), also supplied Iran with critical technology for its uranium enrichment program, and helped "put Iran on a fast track toward becoming a nuclear weapons power."
The 2008 Annual Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Public Opinion Poll, Survey of the Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat
Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981...

 Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...

 conducted in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Jordan, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Morocco, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and the UAE in March 2008 noted the following as a key finding.
"In contrast with the fears of many Arab governments, the Arab public does not appear to see Iran as a major threat. Most believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear program and do not support international pressure to force it to curtail its program. A plurality of Arabs (44%) believes that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, the outcome would be more positive for the region than negative."


Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, the world's most populous
Islam by country
Islam is the world's second largest religion after Christianity. According to a 2009 demographic study, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up 23% of the world population....

 Muslim-majority nation and a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council abstained from a vote in March 2008 on a U.N. resolution
UN Security Council Resolution 1803
UN Security Council Resolution 1803 was adopted on March 3, 2008, by a vote of 14-0-1, with Indonesia as the only abstention. The Security Council of the United Nations, acting pursuant to Article 41 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, required Iran to cease and desist from any and all uranium...

 to impose a third set of sanctions on Iran. It was the only country out of the 10 non-permanent members to abstain. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono AC , is an Indonesian politician and retired Army general officer who has been President of Indonesia since 2004....

 speaking at a joint news conference with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 in March 2008 said
"Iran's nuclear program is of a peaceful nature and must not be politicized"


Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world
Islam by country
Islam is the world's second largest religion after Christianity. According to a 2009 demographic study, Islam has 1.57 billion adherents, making up 23% of the world population....

 is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 and already possesses nuclear weapons
Pakistan and weapons of mass destruction
Pakistan began focusing on nuclear weapons development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who delegated the program to the Chairman of PAEC Munir Ahmad Khan...

.

On 12 May 2006 AP published an interview with Pakistan's former Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army General Mirza Aslam Beg
Mirza Aslam Beg
General Mirza Aslam Beg, SBt, HI, NI, afwc, psc , is a retired four-star general who was the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army succeeding General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, after the latter died in an air crash on 17 August 1988...


In the AP interview, Beg detailed nearly 20 years of Iranian approaches to obtain conventional arms and then technology for nuclear weapons. He described an Iranian visit in 1990, when he was Chief of Army Staff.
They didn't want the technology. They asked: 'Can we have a bomb?' My answer was: By all means you can have it but you must make it yourself. Nobody gave it to us.


Beg said he is sure Iran has had enough time to develop them. But he insists the Pakistani government didn't help, even though he says former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto once told him the Iranians offered more than $4 billion for the technology.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060512/ap_on_re_as/iran_pakistan_nuclear

In an article in 2005 about nuclear proliferation he stated
"I would not like my future generations to live in the neighborhood of "nuclear capable Israel
Israel and weapons of mass destruction
Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

."
"
"Countries acquire the (nuclear) capability on their own, as we have done it. Iran will do the same, because they are threatened by Israel."


The San Francisco Chronicle reported on 31 October 2003, that Grand Ayatollahs, like Ayatollah Yousef Sanei
Ayatollah Yousef Sanei
Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei is an Iranian scholar, renowned theologian and Islamic philosopher. He is admired by many and condemned by others for his radical calls for reforms and also serves as a Grand Marja of Shia Islam.-Biography:...

, and Iranian clerics led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have repeatedly declared that Islam forbids the development and use of all weapons of mass destruction. SFGate.com quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction. In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form."


On 21 April 2006, at a Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 rally in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Anwar Raja, the Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 based representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organisation founded in 1967. It has consistently been the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization , the largest being Fatah...

, a party that achieved 4.25% of the votes and holds 3 out the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...

 following the election
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

 declared:
"The Muslim, Iranian, fighting people now possess nuclear capabilities. My brother, the Iranian representative sitting here, let me tell you that we, the Palestinian people, are in favour of Iran having a nuclear bomb, not just energy for peaceful purposes."


On 3 May 2006 Iraqi Shia cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Husseini Al Baghdadi, who opposes the presence of US forces in Iraq and is an advocate of violent jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 was interviewed on Syrian TV.
In his interview he said:
"How can they face Iran? How come Israel has 50 nuclear bombs? Why are they selective? Why shouldn't an Islamic or Arab country have a nuclear bomb? I am not referring to the Iranian program, which the Iranians say is for peaceful purposes. I am talking about a nuclear bomb."
"This Arab Islamic nation must obtain a nuclear bomb. Without a nuclear bomb, we will continue to be oppressed,"

The Baku declaration


A declaration signed on 20 June 2006 by the foreign ministers of 56 nations of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference
Organisation of the Islamic Conference
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Upon the groups's renaming, some sources provided the English-language translation "Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation", but and have since indicated the preferred English translation omits the "the". is an international organisation consisting of 57...

 stated that "the only way to resolve Iran's nuclear issue is to resume negotiations without any preconditions and to enhance co-operation with the involvement of all relevant parties".

Qatar and Arab vote against the U.N. Security Council resolution


31 July 2006: The UN Security Council gives until 31 August 2006 for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and related activities or face the prospect of sanctions. The draft passed by a vote of 14–1 (Qatar, which represents Arab states on the council, opposing). The same day, Iran's U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif qualified the resolution as "arbitrary" and illegal because the NTP protocol explicitly guarantees under international law Iran's right to pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes. In response to today's vote at the UN, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that his country will revise his position vis-à-vis the economic/incentive package offered previously by the G-6 (5 permanent Security council members plus Germany.)

In December 2006, the Gulf Cooperation Council
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf , also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council , is a political and economic union of the Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf and constituting the Arabian Peninsula, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates...

 called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East and recognition of the right of a country to expertise in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The Non-Aligned Movement


The Non-Aligned Movement has said that the present situation whereby Nuclear Weapon States monopolise the right to possess nuclear weapons is "highly discriminatory", and they have pushed for steps to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament.

On 16 September 2006 in Havana, Cuba, all of the 118 Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 member countries, at the summit level, declared supporting Iran's nuclear program for civilian purposes in their final written statement. That is a clear majority of the 192 countries comprising the entire United Nations, which comprise 55% of the world population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

.

On 11 September 2007 the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 rejected any "interference" in Iran's nuclear transparency deal with U.N. inspectors by Western countries through the UN Security Council.

On 30 July 2008 the Non-Aligned Movement welcomed the continuing cooperation of Iran with the IAEA and reaffirmed Iran's right to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The movement further called for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East and called for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument which prohibits threats of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Biological weapons


Iran ratified the Biological Weapons Convention
Biological Weapons Convention
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the...

 on 22 August 1973.

Iran has advanced biology and genetic engineering research programs supporting an industry that produces world-class vaccines for both domestic use and export. The dual-use nature of these facilities means that Iran, like any country with advanced biological research programs, could easily produce biological warfare agents.

A 2005 report from the United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 claimed that Iran began work on offensive biological weapons during the Iran–Iraq War, and that their large legitimate bio-technological and bio-medical industry "could easily hide pilot to industrial-scale production capabilities for a potential BW program, and could mask procurement of BW-related process equipment". The report further said that "available information about Iranian activities indicates a maturing offensive program with a rapidly evolving capability that may soon include the ability to deliver these weapons by a variety of means".

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Iran is known to possess cultures of the many biological agents for legitimate scientific purposes which have been weaponised by other nations in the past, or could theoretically be weaponised. Although they do not allege that Iran has attempted to weaponise them, Iran possesses sufficient biological facilities to potentially do so.

Chemical weapons


Iran has experienced attack by chemical warfare (CW) on the battlefield and suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, both civilian and military, in such attacks during the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War. As a result, Iran has promulgated a very public stance against the use of chemical weapons, making numerous vitriolic comments against Iraq's use of such weapons in international forums. Iran did not resort to using chemical weapons in retaliation for Iraqi chemical weapons attacks during the Iran–Iraq War, though it would have been legally entitled to do so under the then-existing international treaties on the use of chemical weapons which only prohibited the first use of such weapons. Following its experiences during the Iran–Iraq War, Iran signed the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

 on 13 January 1993 and ratified it on 3 November 1997. In the official declaration submitted to OPCW Iranian government admitted that it had produced mustard gas in 1980s but that ceased the offensive program and destroyed the stockpiles of operational weapons after the end of war with Iraq.

A U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 report dated January 2001 speculated that Iran had manufactured and stockpiled chemical weapons – including blister
Blister agent
A blister agent, or vesicant, is a chemical compound that causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain and irritation. They are named for their ability to cause severe chemical burns, resulting in painful water blisters on the bodies of those affected...

, blood
Blood agent
A blood agent is a toxic chemical agent that affects the body by being absorbed into the blood. They are fast-acting, potentially lethal poisons that typically manifest at room temperature as volatile colorless gases with a faint odor. Blood agents are either cyanide- or...

, choking
Pulmonary agent
A pulmonary agent is a chemical weapon agent designed to impede a victim's ability to breathe. They operate by causing a build-up of fluids in the lungs which then leads to...

, and probably nerve agent
Nerve agent
Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs...

s, and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them. It further claimed that during the first half of 2001, Iran continued to seek production technology, training, expertise, equipment, and chemicals from entities in Russia and China that could be used to help Iran reach its goal of having indigenous nerve agent production capability. However the certainty of this assessment declined and in 2007 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Intelligence Agency
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a member of the Intelligence Community of the United States, and is the central producer and manager of military intelligence for the United States Department of Defense, employing over 16,500 U.S. military and civilian employees worldwide...

 limited its public assessment to just noting that "Iran has a large and growing commercial chemical industry that could be used to support a chemical agent mobilization capability."

Iran is a signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans chemical weapons, delivery systems, and production facilities. Iran has reiterated its commitment to the CWC and its full support for the work of the OPCW, in particular in view of the considerable suffering these weapons have caused to the Iranian people. Iran has not made any declaration of a weapons stockpile under the treaty.

Missiles


Iran is believed to have a current inventory of 25 to 100 Shahab-3
Shahab-3
The Shahab-3 is a medium-range ballistic missile developed by Iran and based on the Nodong-1. The Shahab-3 has a range of ; a MRBM variant can now reach...

 missiles which have a range of 2,100 km and are capable of being armed with conventional high explosive, submunition, chemical, biological, radiological dispersion and potentially nuclear warheads. A Shahab-4
Shahab-4
The Shahab-4 aka IRIS liquid propelled missile is an alleged, and possibly fictional, programme for Iran's first missile to bring satellites into orbit....

 with a range of 2,000 km and a payload of 1,000 kg is believed to be under development. Iran has stated the Shahab-3 is the last of its war missiles and the Shahab-4 is being developed to give the country the capability of launching communications and surveillance satellites. A Shahab-5
Shahab-5
Shahab-5 is an alleged Iranian long-range ballistic missile. The name Shahab is a class of Iranian missiles, with a service time of 1988 to present, which comes in six variants: Shahab-1, Shahab-2, Shahab-3, Shahab-4, Shahab-5, Shahab-6.-See also:...

, an intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 with a 10,000 km range, has been alleged but not proven to be under development.

Iran has 12 X-55 long range cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s purchased without nuclear warheads from Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 in 2001. The X-55 has a range of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers.

Iran's most advanced missile, the Fajr-3
Fajr-3 ballistic missile
The Iranian-made Fajr-3 is believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile with an unknown range...

, has an unknown range but is estimated to be 2,500 km. The missile is radar evading and can strike targets simultaneously using multiple warheads..

On 2 November 2006, Iran fired unarmed missiles to begin 10 days of military war games
Military simulation
Military simulations, also known informally as war games, are simulations in which theories of warfare can be tested and refined without the need for actual hostilities. Many professional contemporary analysts object to the term wargames as this is generally taken to be referring to the civilian...

. Iranian state television reported "dozens of missiles were fired including Shahab-2
Shahab-2
The Shahab-2 is the successor to the Iranian Shahab-1 missile.The missile has a CEP of 50 m. On November 2, 2006, Iran fired unarmed missiles to begin 10 days of military simulations. Iranian state television reported "dozens of missiles were fired including Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles...

 and Shahab-3
Shahab-3
The Shahab-3 is a medium-range ballistic missile developed by Iran and based on the Nodong-1. The Shahab-3 has a range of ; a MRBM variant can now reach...

 missiles. The missiles had ranges from 300 km to up to 2,000 km...Iranian experts have made some changes to Shahab-3 missiles installing cluster warhead
Warhead
The term warhead refers to the explosive material and detonator that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.- Etymology :During the early development of naval torpedoes, they could be equipped with an inert payload that was intended for use during training, test firing and exercises. This...

s in them with the capacity to carry 1,400 bombs." These launches come after some United States-led military exercises in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 on 30 October 2006, meant to train for blocking the transport of weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

.

The Sejil is a two-stage, solid-propellant, surface-to-surface missile (SSM) produced by Iran with a reported 1,930 km (1,200 mi) range. A successful test launch took place on 12 November 2008. Its range, if confirmed, would allow it to strike targets as far away as Israel and southeastern Europe, though Iran asserts that it is intended for purely defensive purposes.

According to Jane's Information Group, details of the design other than the number of stages and that it uses solid fuel have not been released. Uzi Ruben, former director of Israel's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, indicated that, "Unlike other Iranian missiles, the Sajil bears no resemblance to any North Korean, Russian, Chinese or Pakistani (missile technology). It demonstrates a significant leap in Iran's missile capabilities." Rubin went on to state that the Sejil-1 " ... places Iran in the realm of multiple-stage missiles, which means that they are on the way to having intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capabilities ..." As a weapon, the Sejil-1 presents much more challenge to Iran's potential enemies, as solid-fuel missiles can be launched with much less notice than liquid-fueled missiles, making them more difficult to strike prior to launch.

Sejil-2 is an upgraded version of the Sejil. The Sejil-2 two-stage solid-fuel missile has a 2,000km range and was first test fired on 20 May 2009. The Sejil-2 surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) was first tested eight months prior to the actual test launch, which took place in the central Iranian province of Semnan. Improvements include better navigation system, better targeting system, more payload, longer range, faster lift-off, longer storage time, quicker launch, and lower detection possibility.
style="color: green;"| Iran's Nuclear Capable Missiles
Name/Designation Class Range
(varies with payload weight)
Payload Status
Fajr-3
Fajr-3 ballistic missile
The Iranian-made Fajr-3 is believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile with an unknown range...

 
MRBM  2,000 km Unknown Operational
X-155  LRCM  2,500–3,000 km 200 kT Operational
Shahab-2
Shahab-2
The Shahab-2 is the successor to the Iranian Shahab-1 missile.The missile has a CEP of 50 m. On November 2, 2006, Iran fired unarmed missiles to begin 10 days of military simulations. Iranian state television reported "dozens of missiles were fired including Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles...

 
SRBM  300–2,000 km 6,370–6,500 kg Operational
Shahab-3
Shahab-3
The Shahab-3 is a medium-range ballistic missile developed by Iran and based on the Nodong-1. The Shahab-3 has a range of ; a MRBM variant can now reach...

 
MRBM  2,100 km 990 kg Operational
Shahab-4
Shahab-4
The Shahab-4 aka IRIS liquid propelled missile is an alleged, and possibly fictional, programme for Iran's first missile to bring satellites into orbit....

 
MRBM  2,000 km 1,000 kg Under Development
Shahab-5
Shahab-5
Shahab-5 is an alleged Iranian long-range ballistic missile. The name Shahab is a class of Iranian missiles, with a service time of 1988 to present, which comes in six variants: Shahab-1, Shahab-2, Shahab-3, Shahab-4, Shahab-5, Shahab-6.-See also:...

 
ICBM  10,000 km Unknown Alleged Program
Sejil-1  MRBM  1,930 km Unknown Operational
Sejil-2  MRBM  2,000 km Unknown Operational

Aircraft



Any aircraft could potentially be used to host some form of WMD distribution system. Iran has a varied air force with planes purchased from many countries, including the United States. Due to sanctions, the Iranian government has encouraged production of domestically manufactured planes and, since 2002, has built its own transport aircraft, fighters, and gunship helicopters.

See also

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747
    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 was a United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened the sanctions imposed on Iran in connection with the Iranian nuclear program...

  • Nuclear program of Iran
    Nuclear program of Iran
    The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

  • Operation Merlin
    Operation Merlin
    Operation Merlin is an alleged United States covert operation under the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.-History:...

  • Green Salt Project
    Green Salt Project
    The Green Salt Project is an alleged secretive Iranian entity focusing on uranium processing, high explosives and a missile warhead design...

  • Iranian Space Agency
    Iranian Space Agency
    The Iranian Space Agency is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran is an active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009...


External links




Analysis
  • Towards Transatlantic Cooperation in Meeting the Iranian Nuclear Challenge – analysis by George Perkovich, IFRI Proliferation Papers n°14, 2005
  • Iran's Nuclear History, Prof. Mohammad Sahimi, Chairman of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California
    University of Southern California
    The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

    , and member of the Union of Concerned Scientists
    Union of Concerned Scientists
    The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit science advocacy group based in the United States. The UCS membership includes many private citizens in addition to professional scientists. James J...

    , 2 October 2003, US State Department, September 2005–presentation of US position. Satellite photography and quotes from Iranian leaders are documented and analyzed.
  • Iran as a Pioneer Case for Multilateral Nuclear Arrangements. Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Europe's Iran Policy: Breaking out of the Spiral of Mistrust by Prof. Volker Perthes, head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin
  • Iran needs nuclear energy, not weapons, Le Monde diplomatique
    Le Monde diplomatique
    Le Monde diplomatique is a monthly newspaper offering analysis and opinion on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first created mainly for a diplomatic audience as its name implies...

    , November 2005 – questions whether Iran's nuclear program was really clandestine as commonly claimed.
  • Forced to Fuel (Harvard Int'l Law Review, Vol. 26 No. 4 – Winter 2005) lays out the case for nuclear energy in Iran, by Prof. Muhammad Sahimi.
  • If Iran Gets Nukes by Abolghasem Bayyena, Antiwar.com
    Antiwar.com
    Antiwar.com is a website devoted to opposing aggressive war, imperialism, and assaults on freedom associated with both. The editors describe their politics as libertarian. Their stated motiviation is, "to show how the imperialistic tendencies of the American government lead to a loss of civil...

    , 17 January 2006
  • Gareth Porter, The Iranian Nuke Forgeries: CIA Determines Documents were Fabricated, CounterPunch, 29 December 2009, http://www.counterpunch.org/porter12292009.html.
  • Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Iran, Jayshree Bajoria| Huffington Post| 23 September 2011


Political statements

Organizations