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Iranian Nuclear Development

American Military University

Iranian Nuclear Development SS132: International Relations II Dustin Reed DeMoss December 21st, 2007


Iranian Nuclear Development Overview The Iranian state has had a nuclear program since 1959 beginning with a

research reactor purchased from the United States and continuing to nuclear power in the 1970s. It was not until the Islamic revolution of 1979 that the West became concerned of the intentions of Iran. U.S. and European allies in the broader Middle East and Persian Gulf viewed Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic as a potential threat and certainly an adversary in the context of actions taken during and after the revolution. Iran has and continues to seek a position of authority in the region and ambitiously seeks this through strategic means whether legal or illegal. The Iraq-Iran war from 1980 to 1988 exposed Iran to its inability to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as efficiently as its counterpart in the conflict. The insecurity amongst the leadership in Iran over this issue has led to a build-up and stockpiling of short range and longer range missiles of which many are capable of carrying a nuclear payload. Of the estimated stockpile in the short range is at least 200 CSS-8 missiles purchased from China in 1989, 30 to 50 CSS-7s (M-11), 100400 SCUD-B’s from Libya and North Korea, and 100-170 SCUD-Cs developed by North Korea with Chinese assistance (Feickert 2004). The CSS-7 (M-11) and SCUD-B are believed capable of delivering a nuclear payload with a range of 173 to 186 miles (280300km). The longer range arsenal is believed to be relegated to the Shahab-3 based on the North Korean No Dong-1 and reportedly has a range of 807 miles (1300km) which allows the capability to strike Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. Shahab-3 is capable of delivering high explosive sub munitions, chemicals, and possibly a nuclear warhead (Feickert 2004). In 2001, Iran intended to produce at least 150 of the Shahab-3


Iranian Nuclear Development

according to press releases (Feickert 2004). Concern over Iran’s purported nuclear ambitions is heightened by the rhetoric against Israel when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds a conference in Tehran discussing the validity of the Holocaust and stating for Israel to be “wiped off the map” (BBC NEWS 2005). Furthermore, the Iranian state has been thoroughly documented attempting to covertly engage in the production of nuclear material which was revealed in August of 2002 by the Parliament-in-exile of the Iranian Resistance which operates under the guise of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) when satellite photos of the nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak were revealed by this organization (Squassoni 2003). In May and July of 2003 the NCRI further revealed sites of interest that may be used for uranium enrichment and centrifuge enrichment. Following these reports by the NCRI the Vice President of Iran in August 2002 confirmed to the IAEA of the activities engaged in concerning the nuclear fuel cycle at the facilities in Natanz and Arak (Squassoni 2003). The nuclear intentions of Iran are dubious but according to the leadership there is nothing but peaceful intentions for the nuclear program albeit if that were the case suspicion should arise when in the pursuit of this it must be covertly managed. Fundamentalist Intentions

The intentions of Iranian leadership are quite obvious as the expansion of military power is necessary to secure strategic positioning in the region, ensure sovereignty, and have a little more “carrots” to bargain for than “sticks” because it would be a nuclear


Iranian Nuclear Development

state like Pakistan, India, China, and etcetera. Regimes such as North Korea & Iran are used to saber rattling in order to acquire international development aid and other responses from the international community but there comes a time when these regimes seek more than just words. For example, in October of 2006 the international community, including the Chinese, was quick to denounce North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon with China stating it “defied the universal opposition of international society” (BBC NEWS 2006). The international condemnation did not phase the regime of Kim Jong-Il and through the state sponsored news agency KCNA the test was reported as “a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous, powerful socialist nation” (BBC NEWS 2006). The foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in October 2003 enabled Iran to avoid facing U.N. Security Council referral by agreeing to suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and to further adhere to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol requiring intrusive inspections, and to provide fully the activities of the nuclear program (Einhorn 2004). Since October 2003 Iran has been caught evading protocols and omitting key elements in reporting procedures. Iran has continued to insist that the nuclear program is peaceful despite rejecting a solution to the situation that would involve allowing the nation to build reactors and be supplied the fuel-cycle service by foreign entities. The solution would’ve enabled Iran to have a guaranteed supply of fuel for the reactors and benefit from the nuclear technology at bargain prices. Despite all this Iran insisted that the nuclear program be indigenous and all the necessary tools for the construction be within Iran leaving many to question the supposed peaceful intentions.


Iranian Nuclear Development

European-American Viewpoints

Europeans and Americans equally view the situation of a nuclear Iran as a crisis though there is a differing perspective on how to resolve the situation. An interesting dialogue begins at the differing viewpoints whereas the role of soft diplomacy belongs to Europe and the role of enforcement is the United States. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom from the outset began in 2003 the role by trying to introduce solutions to avoid referral to the U.N. Security Council during a time when that wouldn’t have been prudent and was pseudo-maladaptive to the international community considering the start of the American War on Terror beginning in Iraq. The United States of America under the Bush administration took the role of enforcement by advancing the use of sanctions to further isolate an already isolated regime. In December of 2007 following a national intelligence estimate on Iranian nuclear capability the national security adviser Stephen Hadley issued a statement saying, “the international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran — with diplomatic isolation, United Nations sanctions, and with other financial pressure — and Iran has to decide it wants to negotiate a solution” (Washington Wire 2007). It is clear that the United States has taken the aggressive offensive posture to tackle the issue of a nuclear Iran and has evidenced a willingness to confront Iran; which is surrounded to the east and west by American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. On January 29th, 2002 in the State of the Union address President George W. Bush referred to Iran as part of the “axis of evil” along with North Korea and Iraq ( 2002).


Iranian Nuclear Development Potential Outcome

The international community has allowed the Iranian regime far too much space for deception, evasion, and outright lies. As has been seen with the North Korean nuclear situation this is an inept response. In September 2005 North Korea expressed agreement to withdrawal from nuclear activities, July 2006 North Korea tests missiles over the Korean peninsula and receives U.N. sanctions, and then in October 2006 successfully carries out a nuclear weapons test (BBC NEWS 2006). It should be noted at this point that Iran has a well-known relationship with North Korea on the basis of military technology providing missiles during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war (Katzman 2003). Although the two regimes have different methods of coercion and subversion it seems history is doomed to repeat itself but the stakes are higher considering the volatility of the Middle East. A nuclear Iran would only heighten the volatility not to mention the worldwide implications of the knowledge of official sponsorship of terrorism by the leadership of this nation, even to the point of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps being labeled a “specially designated terrorist group” by the U.S. which is highly significant given that this is the first group labeled such and belonging to a government (Washington Post 2007). The international community thus far has acted appropriately been not efficiently to dissuade Iranian leadership from following the same tactics as exemplified by others in similar predicaments. Europe and the United States have been at the forefront of this controversy and albeit through different means have given an abstract set of scenarios for Iran’s leadership to pursue, but due to the determination of the


Iranian Nuclear Development

fundamentalist within Iran all of this has been concretely rejected. Emphasis should be placed on a single international response by both the United States and Europe to resolve the situation through further U.N. Security Council referral and sanctions, or finding a justifiable and safe solution through foreign fuel cycle services.

Bibliography BBC NEWS. October 28, 2005. (accessed December 30, 2007). BBC NEWS. October 9, 2006. (accessed December 30, 2007). Einhorn, Robert J. "The Washington Quartely." Autumn. 2004. (accessed December 30, 2007). Feickert, Andrew. "State Department." CRS Report for Congress: Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities. August 23, 2004. (accessed December 30, 2007). Katzman, Kenneth. "State Department." CRS Report for Congress - Iran: Arms and Weapons of Mass Destruction Suppliers. January 3, 2003. (accessed December 30, 2007). Squassoni, Sharon. "State Department." CRS Report for Congress - Iran's Nuclear Program: Recent Developments. August 15, 2003. (accessed December 30, 2007). Washington Post. August 15, 2007. (accessed December 30, 2007). Washington Wire. December 3, 2007. (accessed December 30, 2007). January 29, 2002. (accessed December 30, 2007).