Iran Nuclear Programme, a Brief History
Iran nuclear programme dates back to the time of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the country’s last monarch. Whilst Iran became a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under the Shah’s rule, the first aspirations of the country for building nuclear weapons have also been expressed by his government. More than a decade after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Islamic Republic restarted the country’s existing programme. Although, it was never proven that Iran’s nuclear programme had an active military dimension, Iran’s regional balance of power struggle, the experience of eight devastating years of war with Iraq, sharing borders with a nuclear nation (Pakistan) and having multiple domestic security challenges led the international community to conclude that it would have made perfect sense for the Islamic Republic to aspire nuclear military capability. The nuclear negotiations that concluded with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) became a milestone in Iran–US relations since the Islamic Revolution. The unilateral withdrawal of Trump’s Administration from the JCPOA has reinstated uncertainties about the future of Iran–US relations. This chapter provides a review of the history of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its impacts at domestic, regional and international levels.