Inside Story

I thought that I might as well post this, since I went to the trouble of writing it. This was my “paper” that I presented in my Middle Eastern Media class.

Joining the Club

Middle East Perspectives on a Nuclear Iran

Introduction

The Iranian nuclear program was initiated in 1957 with the Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy, as part of the United States’ “Atoms for Peace” program. Backed by the Shah, it continued steadily through the next twenty years, including an extensive nuclear purchase program that was supervised by Western powers. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 put a halt to development, as it was not a priority for the new administration. However, the mid-1980s and 1990s saw cooperation with both North Korea and China, and the birth of nuclear weapons suspicion. In 2002, Russia began construction of a contracted reactor at Bushehr, under IAEA safeguards, followed by the official unveiling of enrichment activities by Iran in 2003. Through the next three years, the Islamic Republic scuffled with the IAEA, suspending and resuming its enrichment program until 11 April 2006, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that laboratory samples of uranium had successfully been enriched to the 3.5% reactor-grade level.

The significance of this issue may be simplistically classed under two themes: control and potential. If Iran had the ability to produce nuclear fuel from uranium ore, its dependence upon outside sources would be vastly lessened, in turn depleting the amount of control the outside world has upon Iran’s program. The country’s accountability for the internal supply and use of enriched uranium would be greatly reduced. Reactor-grade uranium needs only to be additionally cycled through centrifuge cascades to reach the 90% weapons-grade level. This potential, along with the possible actions of a nuclear-armed Iran, engenders concern in both the region and the international community. This media watch project evaluated reactions from mainly Iranian sources to the 11 April announcement, and their general views on a nuclear Islamic Republic.

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