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Nuclear Program History

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) traces Iran's nuclear arms ambitions as far back as 1984, when current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was president and Iran was at war with Iraq. At a top-level meeting at that time, Khamenei endorsed a nuclear weapons program, saying "a nuclear arsenal would serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God's soldiers" (AP, September 18, 2009). Iran feared Saddam Hussein might be developing a nuclear weapon and felt the need to have its own bomb to deter Iraq.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin first received reports about an Iranian nuclear weapons program in May 1992. The CIA, on the other hand, maintained that the Iraninan program was civilian rather than military, an assessment the agency did not abandon until 1998 (New Republic, February 5, 2007).

Is It Peaceful?

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been steadfast in his insistence that Iran's nuclear program is being buitl for peaceful purposes alone. As recently as August 2012, when addressing the Non-Aligned Movement's summit meeting in Tehran, Khamenei said that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons and has an instictual national right to pursue peaceful applications for nuclear energy.

However, Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has concluded that his monitors are unable to prove that Iran's nuclear program in non-military in nature. Director Amano has warned the international community of this perceived threat and to the fact that Iran has not cooperated with inspectors in order to prove that its nuclear program was meant for peaceful purposes.

Is Iran's nuclear program actually for peaceful purposes or is it, as Director Amano warns, of military nature?

By the Numbers

A review of the most pertitent and up-to-date statistics relating to Iran's nuclear drive, military capabilities and the international effort to counter Tehran's actions.

Each number presented includes a concise explanation of its meaning as well a more complete overview of its importance to understanding the full scope of the Iranian nuclear program.

Main Nuclear Facilities