Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, nuclear technology became rampant throughout the globe as they realized the potential of such technology for both energy production and warfare. Several nations had developed their nuclear programs to cement their capabilities to the world and discover new methods on how nuclear power can be reduced. While the proliferation of nuclear arms and power had decreased significantly, there were nations that broke away from such norm and continued with their nuclear programs despite the criticism from the international community. One of these unrecognized nuclear states is Iran, which is now meeting intense scrutiny and reprimand from the international community, especially from the US for its continuous nuclear testing. Although Iran vehemently stresses the program was only for its energy and development program, the fact their program can be recalibrated for nuclear weapons production and continues to produce new research despite sanctions presents dangers to international security and the movement towards nuclear non-proliferation.
After the Second World War, many nations have acquired the knowledge of utilizing nuclear power after the terrors brought by the atomic bomb in Japan in order to cement their capability to compete alongside other developed powers. According to Kerr (2012), Iran’s nuclear program began sometime around the 1950s when the U.S. constructed a research reactor in Teheran. While the reactor went critical in 1967 due to its unstable nature, the Iranian government realized the potential of nuclear power and according to documents presented in the 1970s; Iran wanted to create 10-20 nuclear reactors to generate 20,000 megawatts of power by 1994. While this was taking place, Iran had tried to show it was not going to use its nuclear program for weaponry by signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. They also submitted a resolution to the UN in 1974 for a nuclear-weapons free zone for the Middle East. The nuclear program was cancelled in 1979 due to the Iranian revolution in that same year; however, intelligence reports stressed the possibility of Iran reactivating their program which indeed happened in 1982. While Iran continued to argue their research is for electricity production, the National Council of Resistance on Iran (NCRI) reported in August 2002 continued its nuclear program in Natanz and Arak without notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which manages the nuclear facilities and capabilities of all suspected and reported nuclear states. The IAEA had immediately called Iran’s attention to cooperate with the investigation and stop its uranium enrichment activities by September 2003. The following month, the IAEA, supported the report of the NCRI regarding Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities, violating the safeguard agreements pertaining to plutonium separation and uranium development. While it was recorded that Iran stopped its operations again in 2003, there are perceptions that Iran can convert its current facilities to produce weaponry through covert action .
Since the discovery of Iran’s nuclear power, the Americans have remained firm that Iran’s nuclear power should be contained and prevent such country from being a full nuclear state. Chubin and Litwak (2003) stressed that the US remains divided over its influence in the region, especially after 9/11. However, instead on confronting Iran head on, the government opted to take non-proliferation discussions diplomatically to prevent the same Israeli strike in the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. Some members of the US government believed that Iran should be offered a bargain in terms of security assurances from the country such as non-interference and the removal of sanctions in exchange for Iran’s pledge to stop developing nuclear weapons. If Iran fails to accept the terms agreed by both countries in compliance to the IAEA obligations and the NPT, the US government would have no choice but to use force to contain Iran. President George W. Bush had even stressed that it would not tolerate such nuclear weaponry in an unstable nation such as Iran, but are open to talks should Iran be open for discussions . Under the Obama administration, Katzman (2014) stated that President Barack Obama is open with ending the tensions between Iran and the US with newly elected leader Hassan Rouhani with an interim nuclear agreement, allowing other options to be viable in any given circumstance. An interim agreement or a Joint Plan of Action was signed between Iran and the US to provide sanctions relief for the country in exchange for stopping Iran’s nuclear programs temporarily on November 23, 2013. Following the development of an interim agreement, both countries have slowly met in several meetings since January 20, 2014 in order to discuss permanent resolution and policies between Iran and international community over its nuclear power. However, if the discussions do not go as planned with regards to the issue, the US would veto S. 1881 that would ensure sanctions would be added to Iran’s current sanctions for their current nuclear development .
At the present time, Iran remains persistent with regards to continuing its nuclear program with the program having successfully launched its newest ballistic missiles. With the US easing the economic sanctions against the country, experts believe that Iran would use the chance to continue their nuclear program and would not settle into a compromise. Analysts also predict that Iran’s continues program would only cause Middle Eastern nations, especially Israel to retaliate to contain the nuclear weapons and disable talks for non-proliferation. Analysts also argue that the United Nations should act in accordance to Iran’s violation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty since Iran has enriched its own uranium stockpile and aggressively avoids settling for a compromise. According to Jofi Joseph, former director for non-proliferation for the US National Security Council, if the Americans are successful in getting Iranian support over their talks on nuclear power, diplomacy and terms must prove it is beneficial for both sides .
In a personal perspective, the current issue with Iran’s nuclear power is disturbing because, throughout history, it has been proven that nations with nuclear power opens the possibility of a black market for nuclear wastes. This would trigger the possibility of terrorist organizations and insurgents to take advantage of this market and develop their own weaponry that has the same firepower as regular nuclear weapons. While Iran may have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its reluctance to stop its nuclear research and development despite talks present the possibility that the Middle Eastern nation would see it as a threat and trigger conflict. Although nuclear power may indeed present another solution to the lack of energy or electricity in nations, especially those in the Middle East like Iran, these nations can easily convert their research into nuclear weapons production to support their power. The United States must try to secure Iran’s cooperation regarding the issue because if they do not secure non-proliferation and the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, it is likely that the discussions for non-proliferation would not prosper and incite the warfare using this technology.
Chubin, Shahram and Robert Litwak. "Debating Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations." Washington Quarterly 26.4 (2003): 99-114. Print.
Dorell, Oren. "Iran advancing its nuclear program despite pact with West." 28 February 2014. USA Today. Web. 18 March 2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/28/iran-nuclear-economic-advance/5835935/>.
Katzman, Kenneth. Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses. CRS Report RL32048. Washington, D.C.: US Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, 2014. Print.
Kerr, Paul. Iran's Nuclear Program: Status. CRS Report RL34544. Washington, D.C.: US Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, 2012. Print.