While the United States and many European nations disapprove of Iran’s diplomatic policies, the nation is undeniably powerful. It is a nation that is growing more and more economically and militarily. Today, the country is still at odds with the US and Israel and the conflict between the nations has revived a nuclear threat that is endangering the lives of many innocent people. Iran’s nuclear program is continuing despite various criticisms and interventions done by the United Nations and the US throughout its long history.
Iran’s nuclear program started in the 1950s but the pace of the study and application of nuclear technology doubled in 1974 when the Shah established the Atomic Energy Organization. He then immediately began to negotiate with other countries for nuclear power plants. The Shah worked hard to secure contracts, so that by the time he fell in 1979, he already had six reactors under contract. He was also trying to purchase 12 nuclear power plants from countries such as France, Germany, and even the United States (Cordesman & CSIS 368).
Until now however, Iran is considered to be continuing its nuclear program only for fuel use and not for weapons, at least on paper. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has inspected Iran several times but their evidence is not enough to support the claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. In one of their reports, the IAEA states that Iran has completely obeyed the requirements for safe nuclear technology development and that there were no indications of efforts to create nuclear weapons (Cordesman 370). In recent years however, it has become apparent that Iran is gearing toward nuclear military capabilities.
In 2003, Iran voluntarily acted to suspend all activities related to enrichment and reprocessing ingredients to nuclear power. However on 2004, Iran informed the IAEA that it intended to resume the manufacture of centrifuge components, as well as the assembly and testing of centrifuges but under the supervision of IAEA. This showed that Iran, despite a number of announcements that it will stop its nuclear program, has not been really serious at all. In 2004, the IAEA Board demanded once again that Iran suspend its centrifuge enrichment and feed material production immediately.
Iran agreed, but broke its word in less than a year when it informed the IAEA that it had resumed its nuclear power development (Alexander et al. 127). Iran stepped up its nuclear program in 2006 by notifying the IAEA that it intended to resume its enrichment in Natanz. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on April 11, 2006 that Iran has achieved a uranium enrichment level of 3. 5 percent U-235 at Natanz. In April, the IAEA discovered that Iran was constructing two more 164-machine cascades, part of the six that was planned. Later in June, Iran again announced that they have achieved 5% enrichment in 163-centrifuge cascade.
Iran’s nuclear program is not without flaws, however. It was reported that their nuclear facility could not sustain a high level of operation, and that processes continued to run into technical problems (Alexander et al. 128). According to the IAEA, Iran already has manufactured about three thousand centrifuges. Security at the Natanz nuclear facility is so tight that the site looks like a maze with barbed wire and several anti-aircraft guns. Russia delivered 29 Tor M-1 air defense systems to Iran in 2007 to further secure their enrichment plant.
In February of the same year, Iran successfully installed two 164-machine centrifuge cascades in its subterranean nuclear facility (Alexander et al. 128). Today, the goal of the United States and European Nations regarding Iraq’s nuclear program hasn’t changed. They want Iran to not be capable of building nuclear weapons in the near future, and to renounce its willingness to develop its capability in developing nuclear power in the long-term (Daalder et al33). Iran hasn’t agreed to these goals yet. If ever they succeed in convincing Iran, many lives will be saved by eliminating the danger of nuclear catastrophe or war.