Tuesday, April 22, 2014

P5+1: Background

The cloud of sanctions hovering around the nuclear program of Iran may soon shatter. This has all been possible with the help of the alliance of permanent members of the UN along with Germany that soon Iran can revive its economy. The formation of this group of 6 nations known as P5+1 or EU+3 has its history in the roots of the nuclear program of Iran. 

Nuclear Program of Iran.

  • 1953: Atoms for Peace Program. The former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered the Atoms for Peace speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953. President Eisenhower sought to curb the misuse of nuclear energy by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind. It was after this that the nuclear empowerment of Iran began.
Though, the Atoms for Peace program is criticised to be a mechanism adopted by the US to help itself in the cold war era. This led to spread of highly enriched nuclear fuel around the world. The then USSR retaliated in the similar fashion by spreading nuclear stockpiles around the world.
  • 1979: Iranian Revolution and change of course.Everything changed after 1979, when events occurred that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was supported by the United States. After this event, the there was rules of an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, who was supported by various leftist and Islamic organizations and Iranian student movements. While the Soviet Union immediately recognized the new Islamic Republic, it did not actively support the revolution, initially making efforts to salvage the Shah's government. The regime was overthrown because of its corrupt practices and several policies that tended it to be puppet of the West.
After the 1979 revolution, a clandestine nuclear weapons research program was disbanded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902–1989), who considered such weapons forbidden under Muslim ethics and jurisprudence. Iran has signed treaties repudiating the possession of weapons of mass destruction including the Biological Weapons Convention,the Chemical Weapons Convention,and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Following the 1979 Revolution, most of the international nuclear cooperation with Iran was cut off. While some companies said they based their action on Iran's non-payment of $450 million in overdue payments, while other sources claim the construction was halted under pressure from the United States. The United States itself cut off the supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel for the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, which forced the reactor to shut down for a number of years, until Argentina's National Atomic Energy Commission in 1987–88 signed an agreement with Iran to help in converting the reactor from highly enriched uranium fuel to 19.75% low-enriched uranium, and to supply the low-enriched uranium to Iran.  
  • In 1981, Iranian governmental officials concluded that the country's nuclear development should continue. Reports to the IAEA included that a site at Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center (ENTEC) would act "as the center for the transfer and development of nuclear technology, as well as contribute to the formation of local expertise and manpower needed to sustain a very ambitious program in the field of nuclear power reactor technology and fuel cycle technology."
  • In 1983, IAEA officials were keen to assist Iran in chemical aspects of reactor fuel fabrication, chemical engineering and design aspects of pilot plants for uranium conversion, corrosion of nuclear materials, LWR fuel fabrication, and pilot plant development for production of nuclear fuel. However, the U.S. government "directly intervened" to discourage IAEA assistance in Iranian production of these materials. Iran later set up a bilateral cooperation on fuel cycle related issues with China, owing to the US pressure, China stepped back.
  • In April 1984, West German intelligence reported that Iran might have a nuclear bomb within two years with uranium from Pakistan.

  • During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), the two Bushehr reactors were damaged by multiple Iraqi air strikes and work on the nuclear program came to a standstill. Iran notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of the blasts, and complained about international inaction and the use of French made missiles in the attack. 

  • 1995: Iran and Russia Sign Nuclear Contract. Iran announces that it will sign an $800 million contract with Russia to complete construction on one of two light water reactors at the Bushehr nuclear plant within four years. After many delays, the project was completed in 2010.

  • 1996: Sanctions Against Iran and Libya. With growing intelligence estimates that Iran may secretly be trying to build a nuclear weapon, President Bill Clinton signs a bill imposing sanctions on foreign companies with investments in Iran and Libya. Such rules are already in place for American companies.
  • 1999: Proposal for Nuclear-Free Mideast. President Mohammad Khatami of Iran goes to Saudi Arabia, becoming the first Iranian leader since 1979 to visit the Arab world. He issues a joint statement with King Fahd expressing concerns about Israel's nuclear weapons program and support for ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons. In 2003, Iran supports such a proposal initiated by Syria.

  • 2002: Discovery of Secret Plants. Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian dissident group also known as the M.E.K., obtains and shares documents revealing a clandestine nuclear program previously unknown to the United Nations.
  • The program includes a vast uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak. In December, satellite photographs of Natanz and Arak appear widely in the news media. The United States accuses Tehran of an "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," but takes relatively little action because it is focused on the approaching invasion of Iraq the next year.

  • 2003: Nuclear Program Is Suspended. Possibly in response to the American invasion of Iraq, which was originally justified by the Bush administration on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Ayatollah Khamenei orders a suspension of work on what appear to be weapons-related technologies, although he allows uranium enrichment efforts to continue.
  • 2005: Ahmadinejad Elected President. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known only as a secular conservative and a former mayor of Tehran, becomes president.
  • 2006: Natanz Production is Restarted. Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Natanz after negotiations with European and American officials collapse. The I.A.E.A. approves a resolution to report Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council, citing “the absence of confidence" among the atomic agency's members "that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”


The next thing in the entire timeline is continued with the trail of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. These are:
  • The first resolution (1696) was adopted in July 2006 which demanded that Iran halt its uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
  • Resolutions, (1737) in December 2006, (1747) in March of 2007, and (1803) in March 2008, which have imposed gradual sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
  • UN Security Council Resolution (1835), adopted in September 2008, restated the Security Council’s demands made in resolution (1696) of 2006 but without imposing additional sanctions.
  • The last Security Council resolution (1929), adopted in June 2010, saw the expansion of more sanctions on Iran for its lack of cooperation and its continued uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. The sanctions curtail military purchases, trade and financial transactions carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the nuclear program.
Apart from the UN, the US and the West did not lag behind adding fuel to the fire.
  • 2011: Sanctions by the West and the US. Major Western powers take significant steps to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its central bank and commercial banks. The United States also imposes sanctions on companies involved in Iran’s nuclear industry, as well as on its petrochemical and oil industries.
  • 2012: Embargo on Iranian Oil. A European Union embargo on Iranian oil takes effect, playing a large role in severely restricting Iran's ability to sell its most important export. In retaliation, Iran announces legislation intended to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Persian Gulf shipping lane, and tests missiles in a desert drill clearly intended as a warning to Israel and the United States.
  • 2013: A new round of American sanctions take effect which state that any country that buys Iranian oil must put the purchase money into a local bank account. Iran cannot repatriate the money and can use it only to buy goods within that country.
  • The United States blacklisted four Iranian companies and one individual suspected of helping the Iran enrich nuclear fuel. It also singles out two other companies, including a Venezuelan-Iranian bank, accused of helping Iran evade other Western-imposed prohibitions on oil sales and financial dealings.

Change in regime and change in course.

  • June 2013: Iran Elects New President. Voters overwhelmingly elect Hassan Rouhani, 64, a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms and a more conciliatory approach to the world. He played a key role in Iran’s voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment in 2004.

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