Ever since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atomic bomb has been the most feared weapon. The destruction has been massive, yet there has been quite a lot of research on nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
As much as nuclear power could be destructive, it is also possible to use this power in a productive way. Currently, nine countries are recognized to have nuclear weapons – North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, India, China, France, Russia, the US, and the United Kingdom. But these are not the only countries to have nuclear programs. There are more than a couple of dozen countries that currently have nuclear power, including Iran.
The recent news about the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a scientist considered to be the father of the nuclear program in Iran, has again brought the spotlight onto Iran and its nuclear program.
How far off into the future is the nuclear program in Iran? Is Iran a threat to the business community and the world in general? Is Iran a rising nuclear power to be wary of?
In this article, we have tried to explore these questions and many others regarding the nuclear program of Iran.
Nuclear program in Iran
Launched with the aid of the US as part of the Atoms for a peace initiative in 1957, the nuclear program of Iran has come a long way. The program has been slow initially, especially after the revolution in 1979. However, the program has picked up pace in the years to follow, with the officials in Iran persisting on continuing with the nuclear program.
Renewed contracts with countries like Pakistan, China, and Russia helped the country to reestablish their nuclear program in the 1980s and 1990s. Currently, the country has quite a lot of sites for research into nuclear power, a research reactor, a couple of mines for Uranium, and facilities for processing and enriching the Uranium.
The country continues to insist that the nuclear program is used for power generation. Being part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they will not be violating it and use the nuclear program for other purposes. However, there have been accusations by the US that Iran uses its civil nuclear program as a clandestine cover to develop nuclear weapons so far.
Nuclear weapons in Iran
Iran signed a Joint deal with the USA, the JCPOA, and in accordance with the same, it has to limit the uranium enrichment quantities. However, the recent reports suggest that there has been considerable expansion of Uranium up to about 4.5%.
The fact that the production has not been increasing monumentally and is moving steadily is probably the only satisfaction at this stage and an indication of the fact that the country is not rushing to make a bomb. When questioned about the violations, the Iranian officials have consistently maintained that this is in response to the sanctions imposed by the US on Tehran.
The Uranium enrichment has slowed down in recent years, and yet Iran continues to have a strong possibility of making a weapon with the centrifuge manufacturing unit under construction now in Natanz.
With the talk in 2015 with the world leaders, Iran limited the nuclear work in exchange for relief on sanctions over the export of oil, which had deeply affected its economy. And yet, after the assassination of QassemSoleimani, the Iranian Major General in 2020, Iran explicitly issued a statement that they will no longer comply with the 2015 deal.
Why is Iran viewed as a threat?
It is not just that Iran has an excess of Uranium enrichment in its possession that makes the country a threat. But Iran is also viewed consistently as a state sponsoring terrorism across the globe. They have been known to provide support to Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations and also offering them financial support.
Iran is also the force behind the major attacks in Israel, and they are also the sponsors of the rebels in Yemen. They pose a strong threat to peace in the Middle East. Also, the country has a very strict regime that denies basic rights to its citizens.
Currently, though, the country is not known to possess any form of mass destruction weapons. It has disavowed the same by signing multiple treaties, including NPT, chemical weapons convention, and the Biological weapons convention. While the nuclear weapon development has to be aligned with the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and other such conventions, there is no stopping which is developing them as far as there are technology and facilities to do so. Iran definitely has the facility, the technology, and more so the intention, which is the major reason for it to be considered a threat with nuclear power.