A History of Continuity in Iran’s Long Nuclear Program

December 8, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Sina Azodi


Atlantic Council

Iran’s interest in developing a nuclear deterrent is often attributed to the Islamic Republic, which, according to Western intelligence sources, had a structured nuclear weapons program until 2003. However, in reality, this interest predates the 1979 revolution and reflects a deep-seated desire for national prestige and development, as well as a need to deter regional rivals.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, similar to the leadership under the Islamic Republic, believed that nuclear energy was the gateway to industrialization and the symbol of modernization. The father of Iran’s nuclear program, Akbar Etemad—who also the first chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)—outlines the Shah’s logic: “for achieving an industrialized economy and high social standards, Iran had to resolve two main issues: ‘energy needs and acquiring high tech industries’… Nuclear technology would resolve both because countries that had pursued nuclear industry had also achieved substantial advancements in [other] technologies.”


Read the full article at the Atlantic Council.