Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear program, particularly its advances in uranium enrichment technology, increasingly concerns the U.S. and the international community. In defiance of multiple sanctions programs and in violation of its nuclear nonproliferation treaty obligations, Iran continues to develop and perfect technologies that would allow it to possess a nuclear weapons capability. This section examines the critical issues that Iran’s illicit nuclear program presents: the types and progress of programs; the sources of Iran’s nuclear and weapons technology; critical nuclear facilities; and the development of missile delivery systems.

In this section

Rouhani’s Impromptu Alliance may Transform the Political Field in Iran
By Mehrdad Moarefian, November 23, 2015

Rouhani got his deal and avoided a drawn-out fight with parliament over its approval. But his victory relied on help from political rivals—albeit pragmatic competitors—who have campaigned against him and his allies in previous elections.

The Iranian Parliament's Response to President Rouhani: The JCPOA Committee Report

AEI's Critical Threats Project has translated the Iranian Parliament's report reviewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

In letter to Rouhani, Supreme Leader Khamenei approves the implementation of the JCPOA
By Caitlin Shayda Pendleton, October 22, 2015

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei conditionally approved the implementation of the nuclear deal in a letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani on October 21. 

Iran's Parliamentary Resolution on the JCPOA
By Jordan Olmstead, October 16, 2015

The Iranian parliament approved “The Proportional and Reciprocal Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” on October 13. CTP has translated the resolution text.

Iran's interpretation of the nuclear deal is not an easy sell
By Frederick W. Kagan, September 2, 2015

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has had to sell the nuclear deal to his people as energetically as President Obama.  He and his technocratic assistants have been forced to clarify their interpretation of the agreement in the process, yielding some interesting insights into what the Iranians think they have committed to and gained.  

Iranian Interpretation of the JCPOA: Statements from Iranian Officials
By Frederick W. Kagan, September 2, 2015

Since the nuclear agreement, Iranian officials have made numerous public statements to clarify the terms of the deal and foster public support.

In Depth: The Iran Nuclear Deal and Sanctions Relief
By Frederick W. Kagan, July 29, 2015

The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has set up these pages to help clarify the hyper-complex language of sanctions relief and to provide additional information about some of the entities that will be freed of international restrictions.

Obama Presents A False Dichotomy On Iran

Many critics of this particular agreement, including me, believe that it would be far preferable to sign a good deal with Iran than to go to war with Iran — but also believe that this is a very bad deal indeed.

Why They're Cheering in Tehran

The nuclear agreement with Iran announced Tuesday is an astoundingly good deal, far surpassing the hopes of Tehran. 

The Day After A Deal: What To Expect From Iran
By Paul Bucala, July 13, 2015

A nuclear agreement will inject a large cash windfall into Iran's ailing economy. Iran will unquestionably use some of this influx of revenue to expand its military and cyber capabilities, increasing the threat Iran poses to American interests and allies at home and in the region.

Dispersed But Not Degraded: Iranian Universities And The Regime's Nuclear Weaponization Activities
By Warren Marshall, January 27, 2015

Besides its own state-run military institutions such as Malek Ashtar and Imam Hossein Universities, the Iranian government continues to mobilize the expertise and facilities available in academia for use in the nuclear program via research contracts and sponsorship of student research.

Iran is Still at the Negotiating Table--And Still Not Cooperating
By Maseh Zarif, Vice News, September 4, 2014

We now have nine months' worth of Iranian rhetoric and behavior as a basis for judging Tehran's intentions and perceptions. Iran's leaders have not budged in any meaningful way on the core issues.

Testimony: The Regional Implications of an Iranian Nuclear Deal
By Frederick W. Kagan, June 12, 2014

Iran is a belligerent in this regional sectarian war and its regional activities will be shaped to a considerable degree by the approach it adopts to this conflict.  We can only reflect on the implications of a possible nuclear weapons deal for the region in this context.

Iran Action Plan is No Step Forward

The deal with Iran fails to verifiably eliminate Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. Or more succinctly, in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s words: “In Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation's will.”

Explaining Iran's Nuclear Deal Win
By Maseh Zarif, New York Daily News, November 25, 2013

The Geneva agreement represents an effort on the part of the Obama administration to try and manage the Iranian nuclear weapons program rather than insist and seek a verifiable dismantling and end to it.

Opening the Door to a Bad Iranian Nuclear Deal
By Maseh Zarif, October 15, 2013

Senior administration officials have said that the U.S. will not be roped into a bad deal with Iran. The emerging framework for this week’s discussions over Iran’s nuclear program, however, all but guarantees that a bad deal – one that leaves Iran marching towards a robust nuclear weapons capability and the U.S. without any meaningful assurances – is in the offing.

The Iranian Nuclear Program: Timelines, Data, and Estimates V7.0
By Maseh Zarif, July 10, 2013

This assessment is the ninth version of a recurring analysis of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran's ability to produce fissile material is no longer the primary bottleneck for its development of a nuclear weapon.

Iran's Centrifuge Plans Would Undermine U.S. Policy Assumptions
By Maseh Zarif, January 31, 2013

Iran has announced its intention to expand its ability to enrich uranium rapidly by installing advanced centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant. If Iran carries through on this declaration it will undermine one of the core assumptions of current U.S. policy aimed at preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Iran Expanding Nuclear Enrichment Capacity and Stockpiles
By Maseh Zarif, August 30, 2012

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s known nuclear facilities highlights the regime’s progressing and undeterred pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.

Iran's Denial and Deception at Parchin
By Maseh Zarif, July 31, 2012

The Iranian regime’s refusal to provide the IAEA access to certain nuclear-related facilities and personnel is one element of a broader denial-and-deception campaign intended to obscure its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

Iran Nuclear Threat Overshadows Talks
By Maseh Zarif, June 19, 2012

The threat of Iran’s illicit nuclear program continues to grow as another round of meetings between P5+1 and Iranian negotiators ends today. Iran refuses to dismantle and end that program while it simultaneously expands its enrichment output and future capacity.

Iran's Nuclear Weapons Fuel Production Capability
By Maseh Zarif, May 22, 2012

Iran could offer to halt production of 20% enriched uranium in upcoming negotiations. This “concession” would have limited impact on Iran’s ability to quickly produce weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear warhead, however.