Oil Nationalization



Coup of Mossadegh



Nuclear Program Origin



Iran Joins NPT



Operation Flower



Revolutionary Nationalization of Assets



Hostage Crisis,

Trade Embargoes,

& Frozen Assets



Iran-Iraq War



AQ Khan Deals



Nuclear Negotiations








Atoms for Peace

Dr. Roham Alvandi

The years after the coup Iran’s economy begins to recover. Of course, you have to remember that during the oil crisis there is a complete embargo on Iranian oil. The Britain imposes a massive blockade essentially of, of Iranian oil, exports, which devastate the Iranian economy. And so in the mid to late 1950s as Iran’s oil exports recover and as American money begins to flow into Iran there is something of a kind of boom, and of course, its polymanaged and boom turns to bust eventually, but it’s also the era of sort of economic development and there’s a lot of sort of building dams and the first small nuclear reactor is built then under the “Atoms for Peace” program that the Eisenhower administration has. But there is a sense that sort of things are returning to some semblance of normality in Iran.

The Shah's Nuclear Program

Dr. Michael Axworthy

The nuclear, that phase of the nuclear question is quite interesting because I mean the nuclear program didn’t begin with the Islamic republic, it began under the Shah of course.  And various western states gave him technical assistance. The Germans did but also United States.  Already in the 1960’s, 1970’s there was speculation that the Shah wanted nuclear industry not just for civil nuclear purposes but also for military purposes and he wanted to have a nuclear weapon.  Iran was a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968 in the Shah’s time and the Shah was always quite clear of – he was usually pretty clear in his public utterances that it was purely for civil purposes.  But there were one or two statements where that was a bit less clear from him that actually he may have been …And in some ways it would have been in line with Iran’s wider role in the region as so-called policemen of the Persian Gulf, a kingpin of western policy or resistance to the Soviet Union in the Middle East.

Wartime Restart of Nuclear Program

Dilip Hiro

According to him nuclear weapons were illegitimate because they did not discriminate between fighters, combatant and non-combatant. That was the thing. But when War of the Cities started, he rise to that opinion because he saw Saddam was using chemical weapons and by some agreement that he was up to developing nuclear bomb or something. And at that point in ’87, he secretly lifted his ban on developing nuclear weapons. And therefore if you follow the whole chronology, sometime in October ’87, the Iranian Foreign Minister Kharazi [sp?], he approached the Pakistanis because Pakistanis were basically broadcasting. We have—we know how to damage your name et cetera, et cetera and we are working on. And in fact the Pakistani bomb which they had assembled was actually exploded in China, China exploded in February ’84. And that information was CIA says, so that was know by ’86, okay. So, you know, most people knew and officials that Pakistan has this technology et cetera, et cetera. And it is at that point in ’87 that the Iranians approach the Pakistanis and tried to get some information how to end this, you know, blah, blah, blah, okay. Now, therefore the key point to keep in mind which is very pertinent is that the reason to, to go for exploring, making a nuclear bomb force, bomb elements had nothing to do with Israel. It had to do with Iraq because I mean the mullahs were afraid of Saddam Hussein. …The War of the Cities was very important because that led to Khomeini secretly lifting his veto against doing military program, nuclear military program.

Iran Nuclear Policy, Israel, and Syria

Dr. Judith Yaphe

The Iranians put a lot of money into Hezbollah, into the Palestinian cause, into the fighting in Syria.  I don’t know how much that is, I doubt that anybody does, but from time to time there will be grumbling, why are we spending so much money there, on the Palestinians or in Syria, whatever, and we’re not putting this into our own economy which is in shambles.

So to say that there is uniform consensus on what is being done, no.  What has been very interesting and we only get a small taste of it, that these things are now becoming more discussed openly, which hadn’t been true.  It’s been somewhat dangerous to discuss or to criticize the government policy on Syria, nuclear policy, all of these things, they were taboos.  Now, on the nuclear issue, it was a foreign ministry issue until Ahmadinejad came to power, and he did not like the negotiations that were going on, and he believed that too much was being given away to the west.  And in effect, he brought the negotiations, the whole issue under his office and under his control.  And he made it a national issue, so that if you were opposed to nuclear whatever, now it was like saying you are not a patriot, you didn’t support the nation, you didn’t support Iran, that’s bad.  It’s a lot easier to do if it’s not got that kind of identification.


Dr. John Vafai

The extraconstitutional institutions—a vestige of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran—are the non-governmental organizations that are effectively nonfunctional: they do not function under the auspices of the President or any other body recognized or mandated by Iran’s Constitution to engage in economic, business, administrative, or policy making activities. These institutions are engaged in ideological, military, investment and commercial activities throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran. In this respect, one may say that Iran has a dual system of government. … Unlike the United States and most of the Western European countries, the operation of the banking system in Iran is highly centralized in the sense that the banking system operates as part of a ministry or a government bureaucracy. Historically, Bank Melli was the National Bank of Iran. Even now, it remains an integral part of the executive branch and a de facto governmental bureaucracy.