Reputable polling institutes such as Gallup have a long history of carrying out surveys all over the world. Polls on popular support for Iran’s nuclear energy program have been conducted by several credible polling institutes, independent of each other, over a period of several years. Since they all point to the same trend – broad popular support for nuclear energy in Iran – it can safely be assumed that the poll results are indeed credible.
Not really. Polls show the ratio of Iranians who expressed support for Iran’s pursuit of nuclear energy in 2006, prior to the imposition of the first round of UN Security Council sanctions, corresponds with the level of public support seen after seven years of intensifying pressure.
Several surveys carried out by reputable polling institutes over the past years show an overwhelmingly majority of Iranians back their country’s atomic energy program.
In February 2006, under heavy Western pressure, then IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei referred Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council. After the Security Council’s issuing of a resolution against Iran, Tehran ceased implementing the Additional Protocol. However, Tehran continued to allow IAEA inspections. Iran implemented the Additional Protocol on a voluntary basis. It was never ratified by the Iranian parliament.
The 2009 nuclear fuel swap proposal involved Iran shipping out 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in exchange for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. The amount of LEU amounted to 70% of Iran’s stockpile of such material at the time.
The Iranian LEU was to be further enriched in Russia and molded into fuel plates in France, essentially being delivered a year afterwards. Tehran agreed to the deal in principle but said the agreement needed modifications. Iran said it required “100 percent guarantees” that it would indeed receive the reactor fuel. On several occasions, Iran proposed that the elements of the fuel exchange occur simultaneously on its soil or that the two sides carry out the swap in smaller batches. The P5+1 rejected Iran’s proposals, leading to the collapse of the fuel swap proposal.
Yes, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit several buildings at the site during two visits in 2005. It also allowed the inspectors to take a number of soil and environmental samples. In its February 2006 report, the IAEA said it “did not observe any unusual activities in the buildings visited, and the results of the analysis of the environmental samples did not indicate the presence of nuclear material at those locations.” Since then, however, Tehran has denied access to the site, insisting that the IAEA must first come up with a step-by-step roadmap for resolving all outstanding issues.
The IAEA has been diligent in its fact-finding mission. The number of man-hours of IAEA inspections that have been carried out in Iran is the highest ever for any country. To date, the IAEA has not found Iran in violation of its obligations under the NPT.
The IAEA has in the past raised several concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities. How cooperative has Iran been in addressing these concerns?
Tehran has addressed every concern raised by the IAEA. It has also allowed inspections of its sites when needed and provided explanations to clarify ambiguities.
In the early 1980s, Washington intervened to stop the IAEA from helping Iran restart its nuclear energy program. The US also pressured West Germany’s Siemens/Kraftwerk Union to refrain from completing the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.
Washington claimed Iran’s advancement in nuclear technology could serve as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.
What is the main sticking point between the West and Iran concerning Tehran’s nuclear energy program?
The US, some European countries and Israel accuse Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran, however, says its nuclear energy program is solely intended for peaceful purposes such as research, power generation and medical applications.
The main sticking point is the production of nuclear fuel on Iranian soil. Enriched uranium is used as fuel for nuclear power plants, but it can also be used for military purposes if processed further. Dozens of countries around the world enrich uranium without using the material to build nuclear weapons. Iran, as a signatory to the NPT, is obligated to not pursue any military dimensions to its nuclear energy program. Moreover, Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a religious edict banning all aspects of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), including atomic arms.
The IAEA has to date not found any diversion from the peaceful dimensions of Iran’s nuclear energy program.
After the failure of the 2009 nuclear fuel swap proposal, US President Barack Obama sent his Brazilian counterpart a letter to encourage a Brazilian-Turkish initiative to revive this exchange. Thus, Brazil’s president and Turkey’s prime minister traveled to Tehran in May 2010 for intense discussions. In the end, the three countries (Iran, Brazil and Turkey) signed a joint declaration to exchange much of Iran’s low-enriched uranium for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.
The terms of the deal were practically identical to the 2009 proposal. Yet, the US immediately rejected the declaration and opted to push for more UN Security Council sanctions on Iran.
How many nuclear fuel swaps have been proposed between Iran and its negotiating partners? What did the proposals entail?
There have been negotiations on the exchange of Iranian LEU for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor on two occasions. In 2009, the P5+1 came up with a proposal, while Turkey and Brazil tried to broker the signing of practically the same proposal in 2010. Both proposed swaps required that Iran ship out 1,200 kilograms of its LEU stockpile to a third country and in return receive a supply of 120 kilograms of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.
The 2009 talks collapsed as Iran did not receive “100% assurances” that it would indeed receive the reactor fuel. The 2010 negotiations, which resulted in the Tehran Declaration, were dismissed by the US which opted to push for more sanctions.
According to the NPT, all signatories have an inalienable right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. As this right is “inalienable” it cannot be undermined or curtailed under any pretext. Any attempt to do so would be an attempt to undermine a pillar of the treaty and the NPT itself. Iran, like any other non-nuclear-weapon state has no obligation to negotiate and seek agreement for the exercise of its rights, nor could it be obligated to suspend them.
Iran’s single most important demand has always been the recognition of its inalienable right to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France – plus Germany. The group was formed in June 2006. That is when China, Russia and the US joined the EU3 to engage in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear energy program.
The Paris Agreement was signed in November 2004. It called on Iran to ensure that its nuclear energy program would be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. In return, the deal required European governments to recognize Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology. The two sides also agreed to cooperate on a number of issues in the technological, economic and security fields.
No. As promised, Iran continued its suspension of enrichment activities as defined by the IAEA. However, the EU3 did not honor its pledge to work towards normalizing relations between Iran and the IAEA as well as seek to close Iran’s nuclear file in the June 2004 IAEA Board of Governors meeting. Instead, the EU3 proposed a harsh resolution with further demands at the Board of Governors meeting in question.
Four months after the signing of the Tehran Declaration, Iran and the EU3 signed another agreement. That deal, known as the Brussels Agreement, was signed in the Belgian capital in February 2004. Under this new agreement, Iran pledged to continue and expand the suspension of its enrichment activities as defined by the IAEA. In return, the EU3 promised to work actively to normalize relations between Iran and the Agency. The EU3 also made a commitment to work towards closing Iran’s nuclear dossier at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in June 2004.
In October 2003, Iran and the EU3 signed an agreement known as the Tehran Declaration. Iran pledged to cooperate with the IAEA, sign and implement the Additional Protocol as well as voluntarily suspend enrichment activities during the course of the negotiations. In return, the EU3 agreed to recognize Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy in accordance with the NPT and promised long-term cooperation in various fields.
Negotiations between Iran and the EU3 (Britain, France, and Germany) over the Iranian nuclear energy program first began in 2003. Their first meeting, which was held in the Iranian capital, resulted in the Tehran Declaration or Sa’dabad Agreement.
Nuclear technology can be used to increase the yield and quality of crops. It can also help in controlling and even eradicating pests, managing water sources and improving livestock productivity. In addition to this, radiation technology can assist in the processing and preservation of food products.
There are over 430 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries around the world. These reactors have a total capacity of 372,000 MWe and can supply some 13.5% of the world’s electricity needs.
Yes, Iran is using nuclear technology to manufacture advanced equipment such as gas turbine impeller fans needed for its oil industry. Other applications of nuclear technology in Iran’s industrial sector include the detection of leaks in pipelines through radioactive tracers as well as production of polymer sheaths and strips which have thermal contraction ability. Iran also manufactures nuclear counting systems such as the Geiger counter.
Iran is among the very few countries that are using nuclear technology to produce medical isotopes. The radioisotopes are used to treat more than 800,000 patients in the country. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has succeeded in manufacturing about 55 different types of radio medicines and medical kits. These are regularly distributed among more than 130 active nuclear medical centers and hospitals throughout the country.
At present, nuclear power accounts for only around one percent of Iran’s total electricity generation. However, Iran plans to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity by 2020. If it succeeds in doing this, Iran can save oil worth around $14 billion every year.
Though Iran has vast oil and natural gas reserves, these resources are finite and diminishing at a very quick pace. This is not to mention the rising demand for energy presented by Iran’s fast growing population. In order to meet its growing need for electricity, Iran has no choice but to diversify its sources of energy and turn to more sustainable options.
Many countries are now using nuclear power as their primary source of electricity. France is leading this list, producing over 75% of its energy needs via the use of nuclear power plants. Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea are also relying on nuclear power for a crucial share of their electricity production. The United States only relies on nuclear power for some 20% of its electricity production. However, it has 104 nuclear power reactors – the largest number in the world.
At present, Iran’s biggest environmental problem is air pollution caused by high consumption of fossil fuel. The harmful gases that are produced by the burning of these fuels have led to negative impacts on human health and result in thousands of deaths every year. Considering the minimal amount of greenhouse gases produced by nuclear power plants, they are a well suited replacement for Iran’s fossil-fueled power plants and can therefore help alleviate some of the country’s environmental problems.
Iran’s main objective in pursuing nuclear technology is and has always been to mainly produce energy for its growing population. By accessing nuclear technology, Iran hopes to diversify its energy sources and end its reliance on oil and gas. Moreover, Iran seeks to develop its healthcare, industry and agriculture with the use of nuclear technology.
Nuclear energy is cleaner, safer, and more cost-effective than conventional, fossil-based energy sources. It can also produce more electricity than other renewable options.
The US has imposed an arms ban and an almost total economic embargo on Iran. The EU has also imposed restrictions on cooperation with Iran in foreign trade, financial services, energy and technology. It has additionally banned member states from providing insurance and reinsurance to Iran and Iranian-owned companies. Moreover, there have been several cyber-attacks and uses of state-sponsored computer malware (namely Stuxnet and Flame) against Iranian nuclear facilities and industrial establishments as well.
How many UN Security Council resolutions have been issued against Iran over its nuclear energy program?
There are a total of six UN Security Council resolutions against Iran. These have resulted in the imposition of four rounds of sanctions. The resolutions are aimed at forcing Iran to suspend its enrichment activities.
A fatwa is a religious edict. The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa during the Iran-Iraq war prohibiting the production of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destruction, and specifically nuclear arms.
No. The Agency has visited Iran’s nuclear facilities on numerous occasions throughout the years. In the reports that were issued following these visits, the Agency verified that it had observed no diversions in Iran’s declared nuclear materials.
The non-nuclear-weapon states that have signed the Treaty are not allowed to develop atomic arms. Moreover, they are banned from “nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water.”
Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the NPT through inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Article IV of the NPT states that it is “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” It also underlines that all Parties to the Treaty “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.” Iran, as a signatory to the NPT, enjoys all of these rights.
Iran signed the NPT on July 1st 1968 and ratified it in February 1970.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is an international accord. It is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promoting cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament as well as general and complete disarmament. The treaty has 190 parties, including Iran.
Yes. On November 29th 2010, the day Dr. Majid Shahriari was killed, a colleague of Dr. Shahriari at Shahid Beheshti University was also targeted with a so-called ‘sticky bomb’. However, the assassination attempt failed.
Yes. A total of three people accompanying the assassinated scientists were also killed in the attacks.
No. Three of the assassinated scientists were university professors while the fourth had only organizational links with the Iranian nuclear energy program.
The confession of captured assassin Majid Jamali Fashi implicated Israel as the orchestrator of the killing of Dr. Masoud Alimohammadi. Iranian authorities blame Israel and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for all four assassinations of Iranian scientists. Tehran says it has particular evidence proving the CIA’s direct involvement in the killing of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.
On December 11th 2010, Maid Jamali Fashi was arrested in connection with the assassination of Dr. Masoud Alimohammadi. Later, he confessed to receiving special training from the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Jamali Fashi also admitted to receiving $120,000 for the assassination.
Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan held a chemical engineering degree from Sharif University of Technology. He worked as deputy director of commercial affairs at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant at the time of his assassination. Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a so-called ‘sticky bomb’ attached to his car on the morning of January 11th 2012.
Darioush Rezaeinejad was an electrical engineering student with several publications in his field of study. He worked closely with a number of research centers in Iran. Rezaeinejad was gunned down in his car, in front of his family, on July 23rd 2011.
Dr. Majid Shariari held a doctorate in nuclear science from Amir Kabir University of Technology. He later joined the academic staff at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and helped set up the university’s nuclear engineering department in 2006. Dr. Shahriari’s prominent works include theoretical designs on a new generation of nuclear reactors. He was also associated with SESAME (International Center for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East). Dr. Shahriari was killed by a so-called ‘sticky bomb’ on November 29th 2010.
Dr. Masoud Alimouhammadi was a professor and an elementary physicist. He published four books related to electromagnetism and quantum physics as well as some 200 scientific articles. He was also a council member of SESAME (International Center for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East). Dr. Alimohammadi was killed by a remote-detonated explosive device disguised in a motorcycle on January 12th 2010.
Four Iranian academics have been assassinated during the past years. They include Dr. Masoud Alimohammadi, Dr. Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahamadi Roshan.
Iran started its gas centrifuge program in 1985, at facilities in Tehran monitored by the IAEA. About two years later, Iran received a centrifuge design through the Agency. In 2002, Iran moved its centrifuge enrichment program to its Natanz site.
Iran officially began operations in Saghand in the central province of Yazd in April 2013.
Tehran decided to revive its nuclear energy program in 1981. The country sought to benefit from local expertise and manpower to build nuclear reactors and develop the technology required to master the full nuclear fuel cycle.
Iran’s nuclear energy program ground to a halt immediately after the Islamic Revolution. Under immense pressure from the US, Siemens/Kraftwerk Union stopped its work in Bushehr. Meanwhile, the United States cut off its supply of weapons-grade uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), forcing the shutdown of the reactor for a number of years. Furthermore, France’s international enrichment facility Eurodif announced that it would not deliver enriched uranium to Iran. This happened even though Iran was a joint owner of the facility and was entitled to 10 percent of its output. Framatome also cancelled its contract to build two nuclear reactors in Darkhovin in southwestern Iran.
In 1974, Tehran loaned $1 billion to the French Atomic Energy Commission for the construction of the multinational Eurodif enrichment plant in Tricastin. Tehran secured a 10 percent equity in the enterprise, entitling it to 10 percent of the plant’s output. In 1975, Iran signed a $2 billion agreement with French company Framatome on the construction of two 950-megawatt reactors in Darkhovin, near the Iraqi border. In total, between the years 1974 and 1978, Iran struck agreements with Western firms on the construction of a total of 14 nuclear power reactors.
After Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Siemens/Kraftwerk Union ended its construction of the power station. The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant was also bombed several times during the Iran-Iraq war. The situation was further complicated by Siemens’ later refusal to provide any information about the plant to the new Russian contractor.
In 1975, Siemens/Kraftwerk Union of then-West Germany, a joint venture of AG and AEG, signed a contract worth $4 to $6 billion to build a nuclear power plant near Iran’s southern city of Bushehr.
The Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) was inaugurated in 1967. The facility was equipped with a 5-megawatt research reactor fueled by weapons-grade uranium; both of which were supplied by the United States.
Iran’s nuclear energy program was launched back in the 1950s, when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was in power. The program began with Iran and the US signing an agreement on cooperation in research on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced in 2010 that it planned to build 10 more uranium enrichment facilities and has selected the sites where they will be constructed.
Yes. The IAEA has spent a record number of man-hours on inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Agency has confirmed in its reports that “all of Iran’s enrichment activities in the declared facilities are under Agency safeguards, and all of the nuclear material, installed cascades and the feed and withdrawal stations at those facilities are subject to Agency containment and surveillance.”
Iran has two sites for nuclear waste management; the Anarak Nuclear Waste Storage Site, and the Karaj Waste Storage Facility.
The Esfahan Light Water Sub-Critical Reactor is often used for training activities.
Iran has five facilities for conducting nuclear research and development: the Esfahan Heavy Water Zero Power Reactor, the Esfahan Miniature Neutron Source Reactor, the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories, the Molybdenum Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility as well as the Tehran Research Reactor. Once completed, the nascent Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor will become the sixth site where Iran conducts nuclear research and development.
At present, Iran has one nuclear power plant. The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is operational, and producing electricity. Another nuclear power plant is under construction in Darkhovin. Once completed, it will be Iran’s first indigenously designed and built nuclear power plant.
The Esfahan Fuel Fabrication Laboratory is used for producing small amounts of fuel pellets. The Esfahan Fuel Manufacturing Plant is utilized for fabricating nuclear fuel pellets for nuclear power and research reactors.
At present, Iran has three enrichment facilities. The Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant produces enriched uranium up to 19.75 percent U-235. The Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant is used for the production of uranium enriched up to 5 percent U-235. The Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant is mainly used for research and development of new centrifuges. Uranium is enriched up to 19.75 percent U-235 at the site as well.
Yes. Iran has an industrial-scale uranium conversion facility in the central city of Esfahan.
Iran has three uranium mining and milling facilities. At Saghand, low grade hard rock ore bodies are extracted from the ground. The output from this site is processed at the Shahid Rezaeinejad Yellowcake Production Plant, which produces up to 70 tons of uranium ore concentrate per year. The Gchine uranium mine and mill is used to extract and process low grade uranium ore.