Since its inception, the Iranian nuclear and missile programs have received assistance from foreign governments, firms and individuals associated with numerous countries. The assistance—including technological, material and informational—has helped Iran develop indigenous capabilities for its nuclear and missile programs. Iran’s relationships with Pakistan, China, North Korea and Russia warrant particular attention.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.