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Iran: Nuclear Issues
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Nuclear Issues


Iran’s official position is that it has no program for the development of nuclear weapons and never would use such weapons. However, certain aspects of its civilian nuclear power program, especially its development of facilities for the conversion of uranium to nuclear fuel, were not disclosed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) until 2002, long after they had been constructed and become operational. This lack of disclosure aroused suspicion in the United States and member countries of the European Union, as well as elsewhere, that Iran was using the development of nuclear reactors to generate electric power as a cover for the clandestine development of nuclear weapons. Iran denied that this was the case, however (see Relations with Europe; The United States and Iran, ch. 4). As of late 2007, no documentary evidence had confirmed that Iran’s military doctrine includes a scenario for the use of nuclear weapons. However, if Iran had a nuclear weapons program, only a very limited number of political and military leaders would know of its existence.

Before the Revolution, the shah’s government contracted with the German corporation Siemens to build a nuclear power plant at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf (see fig. 8). When the Revolution halted the project, 85 percent of the first reactor was complete, but it sustained serious damage in the Iran– Iraq War. When the Islamic Republic attempted to resume work in the late 1980s, Siemens declined to participate, and Iran turned to Russia to complete the plant. The agreement reached between the Iranian and Russian governments in 1995, worth an estimated US$800 million, was attractive to Russia because it established a nuclear market in the Middle East. The station was to include a 1,000-megawatt light water reactor, and Russia was to provide 2,000 tons of uranium fuel. Completion of the first reactor, originally scheduled for 1999, was delayed several times, causing friction between Iran and Russia. A 2005 addendum to the agreement provided for Russia to train several hundred Iranians to run the plant. The delay of scheduled fuel deliveries from Russia and late payments by Iran further set back the opening of Bushehr, until at least 2008. Meanwhile, Iran announced plans to build a large number of additional nuclear power plants.

Data as of 2008

Last Updated: January 2008

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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