Iran’s Nuclear Program

Introduction

Iran’s nuclear program has risen economic, political, and security concerns that have sprouted international debates about its enrichment of uranium and expansion of its massive water reactor project1. The country’s intentions to invest in nuclear projects have left the world in a dilemma concerning Iran’s hidden agenda on the nuclear program.

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As a result, Iran has received enormous pressure from the international community, including the United States, the European Union, and other international allies, and organizations such as the United Nations. This situation has forced the international community to issue various directives to the Iranian government to halt further plans of nuclear investment.

The country has also faced numerous sanctions against the accessibility of nuclear and military production materials, free trade, exploitation, and exportation of its oil to other countries. However, it is the feeling of the international community that Iran has laid plans to manufacture nuclear weapons, which may pose a global threat.

Nevertheless, the Iranian government is seemingly adamant to the appeals made by the international community to stop the nuclear program. As a result, security agencies from the international community have threatened to use military forces to solve the problem, which has turned out to a political dispute. This paper discusses the limitation of using force in international politics by the United Nations, the United States, and other international organizations towards Iranian nuclear weapon development.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear program started in the1950s following proposals that were made by the country’s security agents and government officials to establish nuclear energy plants to supply abundant electricity in Tehran and its neighborhoods2. This action meant a lot to the Iranian government since it was to save large amounts of fossil fuels, hence increasing its exports.

Following subsequent wars with Iraq, the initial agenda took a different dimension. Iranian officials wanted the country to become independent in weaponry technology for future security purposes against its enemy countries (Kerr 2012). However, the United States and allied international organizations had already raised concerns on the country’s interest towards its proposed plans to invest in nuclear technology. The situation fueled political struggles between the Islamic regime and international states.

Eventually, Iran joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreed to stop the production and proliferation of nuclear arms (Kerr 2013). According to the Transnational Threats Report (2013), Iran remained defiant to international laws. It secretly continued to enrich uranium while at the same time establishing more nuclear reactor plants until its disclosure in 2003.

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Iran halted uranium enrichment for three years before continuing further nuclear plant establishments and production of low-enriched uranium in 2006, this time with claims that foreign powers intended to kill its development agenda (Kerr 2012). Currently, Iran is still increasing its nuclear capabilities through the rapid construction of more centrifuges.

Hidden developments in nuclear technology against the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have become a close area of interest to the United States, the United Nations, and other international organizations (Singh 2003). The evident suspicion that Iran might be targeting the production of nuclear bombs or other nuclear-related weaponry has led to inconclusive negotiations (Transnational Threats Report 2013).

Politics towards Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran’s defiance to international laws that govern the establishment of nuclear plants and production of nuclear arms has drawn increased political interest on the country’s nuclear program. Mistrust and possible uncertainties that are associated with Iran’s nuclear expansion plans are the reasons behind foreign interventions by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and other international allies (Chubin & Litwak 2003)3.

However, attempts to stop Iran from enriching uranium and establishing more nuclear facilities have been thwarted by political debates, which do not arrive at amicable conclusions. As per the Transnational Threats Report (2013), the country has severally defied suggestions made by international forces to embrace the International Atomic Energy Agency’s protocol, which regulates the establishment of nuclear facilities. Iran’s insolence has fired international debates that have focused on possible interference with global peace and security.

Iran has defended itself in several meetings with the International Atomic Energy Agents by claiming that its nuclear investments do not target the development of nuclear weapons (Kerr 2012).

However, the country has insufficient substantiation to convince the international community about its intended purpose of constructing the enormous underground Natanz and Fordow reactor plants (Chubin & Litwak 2003). Nevertheless, the foreseen risks that are posed by Iran’s massive establishment of nuclear plants and weapon proliferation still hold for many international communities, and hence the reason why they remain a major security concern internationally (Kerr 2012)4.

International negotiations with Iran have turned into nuclear politics, a state that has made Iran more resistant to nuclear laws. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany, commonly known as the ‘EU-3 group’, have severally condemned Iran’s nuclear activities alleging that the country has plans to develop illicit military equipment (Chubin 2007).

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The United States, the United Nations, and other intercontinental associates have also suggested that Iran’s intentions on its investment plan have remained ambiguous to the international fraternity (Chubin & Litwak 2003).

In response, the Iranian government officials and Muslim clerics have defended the country by asserting that the international community, especially the United States, wants to limit their (Iranian officials) capability to advance technologically (Singh 2013)5. As a result, Iran has not adhered to any nuclear law agreement with other countries.

Moreover, Iran has not yet reached the capacity to build any single nuclear weapon. Research carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated that the country has limited access to nuclear raw materials to use in the nuclear plants. Moreover, Iran has an inadequate amount of low-enriched uranium (LEU) that is used as fuel in the reactor plants. Following inadequate supply from Russia, Iran has been in pressure to build its enrichment plants to produce sufficient low-enriched uranium to serve its power reactor plants.

However, Iran does not have the required technical expertise to process and refine uranium materials required by its main reactor at Bushehr. As a result, Iranian government agencies claim that infringement of its activities by international politicians aims to deny the country its rights to construct sufficient energy plants (Chubin 2007).

On a different political dimension, international bodies have confirmed that further expansion of uranium enrichment and development of its nuclear capability can lead to internal security issues within the nation. Major focus has been on Iran’s persistent demands of seeking its right to invest in nuclear technology (Chubin & Litwak 2003).

If Iran acquires sufficient technology to refine its uranium, it will be among the countries that have massive nuclear reactors in the Middle East, including Israel, Russia, and Pakistan (Singh 2003). This achievement will cause tension to the neighboring states since Iran’s peculiar intentions on nuclear investments have remained unknown. Tension amongst its neighboring countries might trigger security threats, especially from Israel (Chubin & Litwak 2003)6.

Moreover, professionals who participate in international debates on nuclear weaponry have also confirmed that Iran’s quest for supremacy will form the basis of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s neighboring countries have capitalized on nuclear technology. Iran might opt to have its nuclear arsenal too, just as Israel. Iranian government agencies use these facts to support its intentions of developing its nuclear facilities and probably nuclear weapons to maintain the same security levels with Israel, Russia, and Pakistan.

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This position has left unanswered questions on whether Iran will maintain peaceful relations with its neighboring countries and other enemy countries (Litwak 2003). However, Kerr (2013) asserts that the United States still fears the attainment of independence nuclear weapon production plants in Iran if it permits the expansion of its potential in nuclear technology.

Generally, the fact that Iranian government and diplomats cannot make their conclusions on whether to stop or continue with the expansion of nuclear plants implies that the international community bases its arguments on political grounds towards the country’s nuclear project (Chubin & Litwak 2003).

Foreign powers, especially from the United States, have denied Iran the chance to make independent decisions to meet the requirements of nuclear powers. Chubin and Litwak (2003) reveal that international forces should allow Iran to exercise power over its development projects regardless of their intentions on the nuclear program. Nevertheless, permitting Iran to run nuclear facilities might pose possible international security threats.

Pressure from the International Community

Continued international political pressure and inconclusive discussions on the nuclear program has resulted in an unending war between interest parties and Iranian government authorities7. Singh (2003) suggests that various authorities in Iran have claimed that intentions of expanding its nuclear potential have nothing to do with the development of nuclear arms.

However, the United Nations Council has failed to admit Iran’s contentions, alleging that Iran’s intentions are beyond its hypothesized purposes for having more nuclear facilities installed in the country (Litwak 2003). Security personnel from the United Nations have suggested that it is hard to assess the purpose of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The United States’ intelligent service has not established adequate evidence to prove Iran’s establishment of nuclear weapon facilities. However, Iran has hidden nuclear expansion projects that have forced the United States and other international allies to raise suspicion over the country’s unconventionality to universal nuclear energy laws (Singh 2003).

The United States, having one of the world’s sophisticated military equipment and personnel, has been at the forefront in intervening Iran’s nuclear program. Diplomats from the United States are currently in a move to persuade the Iranian government to enter a considerate agreement on international nuclear laws (Chubin 2007). Iran is the only country in the Middle East that has failed to refrain from nuclear development activities, even with the establishment of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (Chubin & Litwak 2003)8. The country faces worldwide sanctions, which have enormously deteriorated its economy. The United States’ intelligence agencies have suggested that further noncompliance with international laws governing the production and proliferation of nuclear weapons will result in serious sanctions and military destruction of its nuclear facilities. This attempt will not only burr Iran from further nuclear technology developments but also set back its nuclear program (Kerr 2013).

Intelligence agencies in the United States have faced a hard time trying to figure out the correct measures that have to be put in place to arrest Iran’s problem. However, the agencies have to evaluate the consequences of the United States’ actions on Iran and their implications on future security issues (Singh 2013).

Earlier on, in 2008, intelligence reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency did not produce adequate evidence to prove that Iran had stopped its nuclear activities9. As a result, Israel pressured the United States to speed up its progress on intervening Iran’s nuclear developments, failure to which Israel, with the support of its allies in the Middle East, would perform a military attack on Iranian nuclear projects (Sherrill 2012).

Furthermore, in 2010, faulty diplomatic cables leaked credible information that some countries, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, were in support of a decision by the United States to sanction Iran against carrying out further nuclear explorations. This information followed claims that Iranian nuclear activities posed a threat to the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and its neighborhood countries, especially Israel.

In the same year, the US signed an agreement demanding Iran to face severe repercussions if it failed to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Support of such an agreement by countries in the Middle East prompted the Iranian government to review its secret uranium exploration and international mistrust (Chubin & Litwak 2003).

Limitations of the Use of Force in International Politics

According to Kerr (2013), international pressure to use forceful means to halt Iran’s nuclear program has raised hot debates in terms of its implications on international security, regardless of whether the plans to destroy Iran’s nuclear program succeed or fail. Several scholars and intelligence agents have explained various reasons as to why the use of force might be limited in controlling the way Iran conducts its nuclear activities. One of the major drawbacks of using forceful means to counter Iran’s nuclear program is the cost-benefit analysis.

The suggested military attacks can be too expensive for the United States government to realize the benefits of such an operation (Chubin & Litwak 2003). The military approach in attempts to stop Iran’s nuclear program is likely to involve the use of sophisticated means and all-round military monitoring. The United States has to heighten the security of its personnel in case it decides to send a military attack since there is a likelihood of retaliation by the Iranian military (Transnational Threats Report 2013).

The high costs that are linked to the funding of this arrangement have led to feared ineffectiveness of such military undertaking. Singh (2003) asserts that military operations on Iranian nuclear facilities will not necessarily stop its ambitions to intensify its uranium enrichment programs. Most likely, the destruction of Iran’s nuclear plants will only slow down its nuclear activities (Chubin 2007)10.

The possibility of creating poor relationships with the United States, Israel, and other international partner countries is another limitation towards the use of the military strike in Iran (Singh 2013). Particularly, the United States has expressed intense sensitivity in this matter. The United States has the most advanced and sophisticated nuclear and military equipment. Singh (2013) reveals that the country also has highly trained military personnel who have gained the required command of military equipment through rigorous training.

This blend of technology is adequate to claim Iran’s nuclear facilities within a short-lived military operation. Likewise, Israel can carry out a military operation as it did in Iraq earlier. However, the aftermaths of a military strike will most likely create hostility barriers between the neighboring nations, the United States, and Iran, regardless of whatever country undertakes the military operation. These considerations have limited execution of military operations based on the fear that such an action can trigger retaliation (Sherrill 2012).

Furthermore, Iran can use the excuse of such operations to invest in more uranium enrichment plants to attain the capability of manufacturing smaller atomic bombs that might pose dreadful threats to international security. Consequentially, the United States ruled that a military strike could remain the last choice of ending Iran’s nuclear program (Chubin 2007).

Moreover, Iran seeks supremacy in the Middle East. It is not likely to sign an agreement that will deprive the country of its rights to invest in nuclear technology11. The United States, Israel, and it’s neighbor countries in the Middle East including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, the United Nations, and other international organizations have undoubtedly endorsed the use of forceful means to stop further nuclear developments in Iran. Chubin (2013) suggests that such threats will not stop Iran from conducting its nuclear program.

This situation has been evidenced by the secret nuclear developments that had been unearthed at the beginning of 2003 by the International Atomic Energy Agency12. Even though the Iranian government had signed an agreement adhering to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it contrarily continued funding the improvement of the existing amenities and construction of new uranium enrichment facilities.

For a long time, Iranian diplomats have always claimed that intrusion of its nuclear program by foreign interest parties is a move to deter the country from developing both geopolitical and economic networks (Sherrill 2012). Iran is an Islamist state ruled by hard-line leaders who do not easily compromise their quest for power with threats from foreign interventions.

The country is likely to use any possible means to seek independent powers by massive investments in nuclear technology. Nevertheless, the government claims that the nuclear program targets a peaceful Iran and that it is intolerable to the international community, with more focus on Israel and the United States (Sherrill 2012).

Applicable methods to control Iran’s Nuclear Program

Political Consensus

A play of diplomatic talks with Iran can be the basis for the best resolution towards Iran’s quest for having nuclear energy independence. According to Maloney (2013), Iran has to come into political consensus with the international community for its plans to thrive. The United States diplomats have stressed that the continuation of Iran’s plans will extremely rely on its adherence to the regulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency (Maloney 2013).

Iran has lost international confidence due to nonconformity to IAEA regulations. This case follows Iran’s secret missions to build more uranium enrichment facilities contrary to an agreement that was clearly stated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to Sherrill (2012), internal politics in Iran have also played a big role in countering foreign interventions towards the nuclear program.

Insights from Iranian political elites have majorly shaped the path for anti-western intrusion in their nation in an attempt to kick out foreign powers from Iran. Nevertheless, for a political consensus to prevail, the government of Iran has to win the confidence of the international states and organization while giving an uncompromising assurance that it does not intend to use the nuclear program to produce nuclear weapons (Maloney 2013).

Economic Pressure

Based on the failure of political consensus, the United States has the option to apply incredible pressure on Iran’s economic state by imposing more sanctions. If Iran fails to comply with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regulations, the United States and world’s allies have no option other than imposing further sanctions to weaken the country’s economic status13.

Currently, Iran’s faces several sanctions against oil exports and business relationships with the world’s supreme economies, including China, Japan, and the United States (Amirahmadi & ShahidSaless 2013). Under this huge economic distress, the country has incurred big losses both locally and internationally.

Iran has wasted billions of dollars in its multibillion-dollar nuclear investment. This situation has led to poor production in other economic sectors and inflation of local prices. Consequently, further sanctions will deter the Iranian government from funding its nuclear initiatives.

Agreements on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Nuclear negotiations started in 2003 after the European Union raised serious concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. Later, in 2005, the United States, China, and Russia supported the nuclear debates to prevent Iran from becoming both a regional and international security threat in case its intentions of investing in nuclear technology were not purposed for peace (Dubowitz & Kittrie 2013).

Unexpectedly, the negotiations between Iran and these countries have taken an up-and-down approach that is masked with incongruent political arguments within the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, political ambiguities have not deterred international states and organizations from holding further negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Last year, the United States president, Barack Obama, held a meeting in Geneva in another attempt to sought conclusive resolutions about Iran’s nuclear program (Amirahmadi & ShahidSaless 2013).

President Obama’s administration remains focused on seeking further negotiations with Iran to arrive at an amicable resolution. The Islamic regime is currently in nuclear negotiations with the United States, Russia, China, Europe, and several other international allies. Banerjee (2014) affirms that Iran accepted to sojourn enrichment of uranium in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal14.

In this deal, the United States government has vowed to prevent further sanctions against the Islamic regime. President Obama was very categorical in asserting that the United States government will not withdraw all the sanctions against the Islamist state.

However, the United States Congress suggested that the conformity to the deal would benefit the Islamic State. The United States and other international allies will withdraw most of the sanctions that are currently imposed on the country if the Iranian government controls its nuclear activities within the boundaries of the agreement (Banerjee 2014). The president stressed that the congress would consider further options to grant Iran full powers to exploit its nuclear potential.

This judgment will highly depend on the International Atomic Energy Agency reports with the support of the United States military intelligence. According to Banerjee (2014), peaceful relations with the United States and Iran’s neighboring countries, including Israel and the larger Middle East, will improve significantly. However, all these privileges will exceedingly depend on adherence on the set pacts in the Iran Nuclear Plan.

Failure to conform to the deal, the republic of Iran will have to face further serious sanctions against transacting businesses with Chinese, Indian, South Korean, Japanese, and Turkish companies and banks. Finally, the United States, backed by the United Nations and other international organizations, will have to advance a military strike to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure (Banerjee 2014).

Iran’s Reactions to the Nuclear Plan

Towards the end of 2013, Iran’s officials publicized the nuclear negotiation accord in Geneva. According to the agreement, Iran accepted to adhere to the nuclear plan (Banerjee 2014)15. Iran agreed to regulate all uranium enrichment facilities to operate below five percent enrichment. Banerjee (2014) also adds that the government of Iran vowed to stop all other facilities that operated above the five percent threshold. The government also said it was committed to halting the installation of any new uranium enrichment centrifuges.

However, the country has been anxious over the failure to include suspension of sanctions against its crude oil business. However, Iranians received the pact with both positive and negative reactions, a situation that was predicted even before the signing of the agreement.

The first criticism came from Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who termed the Iran Nuclear Deal a remarkable mistake in the history of Iran (Banerjee 2014). The prime minister also threatened to use military strike against Iran if the country raises any security concerns. Iranian government embraced the nuclear deal as a comprehensive resolution towards Iran’s long-lived nuclear crisis.

However, some government officials have claimed that the imposed sanction against crude oil sales has tremendously increased the economic pressure of the country and that it will only serve to worsen the current situation in Iran. Other sanctions on Iran’s major areas of the economy included a halt in the building of ships and shipment and blocking the country’s sea transport that formed a critical means of exporting its commodities to the United States and other business partners.

The Iran’s Nuclear Plan has numerous advantages that outweigh its alleged disadvantages by far. The most significant benefit is the restoration of peace in Iran. The plan also marked the beginning of Iran’s relationship rehabilitation with supreme economies such as the United States and China.

Conclusion

The urge to own nuclear weapons by the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a controversial topic for many countries. The provocative issue has raised doubts amongst nations whether the country is only seeking nuclear technology for supremacy or it has ill intentions against neighbor countries and other international states. Many countries dreaded that secret nuclear development together with successive failures to comply with international peace agencies, could probably mean a future tongue of war between Iran and other countries.

However, the recent negotiations led by the US president Barack Obama have outwardly provided a basis for foreseen peace in Iran and its neighbor states. Adherence to the Iran Nuclear Deal will mark a major step towards peace rehabilitation between Iran and the international states and organizations.

The nuclear disputes have immensely deteriorated the economic status of the Islamic republic due to sanctions against its main revenue sources. Therefore, as per the Iran nuclear plan, every international regime expects that Iran will regain economic and geopolitical stability to stand a chance to pull resources together and exhibit common international interest with other modest nations of the world.

References

Amirahmadi, H. & ShahidSaless, S. 2013, ‘Avoid Repeating Mistakes toward Iran’, The Washington Quarterly, vol. 36 no. 1, pp. 145-162.

Banerjee, S. 2014, US-Iran: The Nuclear Talks. Web.

Chubin, S. 2007, Iran: Domestic Politics and Nuclear Choices. Web.

Chubin, S. & Litwak, R. 2003,‘Debating Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations’ The Washington Quarterly, vol. 26 no.4, pp. 99-114.

Dubowitz, M. & Kittrie, O. 2013, A Bad Agreement Likely to Get Worse2014. Web.

Kerr, P. 2013, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations. Web.

Kerr, P. 2012, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status. Web.

Litwak, R. 2003, ‘The New Calculus of Pre-emption’, Survival, vol. 44 no. 4, pp. 53-80.

Maloney, S. 2013, ‘Engagement with Iran: The Sequel’, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, vol. 37 no. 1, pp. 91-102.

Singh, M. 2013, Iran Nuclear Talks: A Brief History and the Road Ahead. Web.

Sherrill, C. 2012, ‘Why Iran Wants The Bomb And What It Means For Us Policy’, Nonproliferation Review, vol. 19 no. 1, pp. 32- 45.

Transnational Threats Report 2013, U.S. Strategies in Response to Iranian Nuclear Development. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Iran’s Nuclear Program did not meet the expectations of the Iranians. Instead, it raised international security concerns and unresolved disagreements between many countries.
  2. The Iran Peace Program began under the Atoms for Peace Program. See more information in Singh, M 2013, Iran Nuclear Talks: A Brief History and the Road Ahead.
  3. Chubin and Litwak (2003) also discuss Iran’s internal politics led by elite groups, which have contributed much to the nuclear politics.
  4. Kerr reveals that the Iranian government has been financing terrorism and is not likely to convince the world about its nuclear investment intentions.
  5. Iran has used this argument as a reason to go against the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear protocol, thus continuing secretly with its nuclear activities.
  6. Israel has threatened to use a military strike on Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The Israeli government believes that Iran is already lethal and that the continuation of its nuclear activities will lead to a high likelihood of achieving its goal of having its nuclear arsenal.
  7. The European Union countries were the first to raise security concerns, asserting that Iran’s nuclear program would lead to instability in the Middle East.
  8. Hard-line leaders and Muslim Clerics will not halt their developments because of blatant reasons arising from international politics.
  9. IAEA research had not revealed any evidence that Iran had started making nuclear weapons. For more information, see Kerr (2013, p 4).
  10. Although the United States is very willing to negotiate with Iran, the US president, Barack Obama, has put it clear that the use of military attacks will become inevitable if the Iranian government fails to comply with the Iran Nuclear Plan. For further information, see the Transnational Threats Report (2013).
  11. Iran claims to own a nuclear arsenal. See Sherrill, C 2012, ‘Why Iran Wants The Bomb And What It Means For Us Policy,’ Nonproliferation Review, vol. 19 no. 1, pp. 37
  12. During a press conference; an Iranian exile group revealed Iran’s secret plans on nuclear facilities.
  13. Amirahmadi and ShahidSaless argue that the United States government should not rely entirely on sanctions alone since its diverted attention to Iraq and Syria can be an opportunity for Iran to achieve more internal power to advance its nuclear activities.
  14. President Obama gives no excuse for nonconformity. He says that Iran’s further defiance will lead to more severe sanctions than in the other years. However, he assures benefits if Iran adheres to the nuclear plan for six months.
  15. Governments in the Middle East reacted differently towards this decision. Israeli government became very bitter about the Iran Nuclear Plan. However, the majority of the governments, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran felt pleased by the new nuclear plant.
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