The Iranian nuclear enrichment program and its potential to create weapon- grade uranium that could be used for making bombs is the hottest topic of discussion among the western powers and international community. In order to better understand Iran’s intention, one must look back to its origin and study the history behind its current activities. Iran’s ambitious plan to acquire nuclear power is nothing new and dates back to the late Shah of Iran. Henceforth, I will refer to him as the "Shah" . It was his government’s desire to acquire the nuclear technology.
During the past several years, a number of misguided attempts have been made to uncover the truth behind Iran’s nuclear activities.
Unfortunately, a number of interviews given by the former head of the Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization, Dr. Akbar Etemad , to various news outlets including the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Farda  and Le Monde  Newspaper have caused greater confusion and misunderstanding. In addition, a documentary published by historian, Mr. Gholam Reza Afkhami  “Barnameh-ye enerji-ye atomi-ye iran, talash-ha va tanesh-haa, a history of Iran's Atomic Energy Program”, has only added to the misguided information already prevalent in the media.
Since I feel I am no longer under any obligation toward the Siemens/KWU  to remain silent, I have decided to go public and disclose the truth behind Siemens’ cooperation with the former government of Iran and its nuclear program. However, allow me to preface my memoir by describing the extent of my family’s ties and relationship with the late Shah of Iran. This relationship began through my father’s cousin, the late Baha-Edin-Mirza Dadston,  whose children were the full nieces of the Shah. The Shah’s nieces’ daughters were also married respectively to Major General Farhad Dadseton  as well as my uncle’s son, Lieutenant-General Iraj Mahvi , who was my step brother.
My family’s ties, my father’s official positions within the government of Iran, and my close age approximation with the Shah himself, offered me the opportunity to become his childhood friend and close associate. My family was also very close to the Alam family. As a result, I became a close friend and confidant of both the late Amir Assadollah Alam  and the Shah. This relationship allowed me to be privy to a lot of confidential information. I plan to fully disclose the details of many closely held secrets along with their supporting documents in my full memoir in the near future.
My family’s ties with the Shah and my business ventures paved the way for me to get closer to his inner circle of friends and associates, I found myself in a very unique situation. I was now in a position to be involved with the nuclear power technology. Upon having a few confidential conversations with the Shah, I decided to create a new company whose charter was to assist the Iranian government in its pursuit of nuclear technology. Due to my successful business ventures, I had secured an influential and well-respected place as a powerful entrepreneur and an industrialist amongst the Iranian elite. The Shah and Amir Assadollah Alam had shared with me many of the behind- the-scenes secrets and events of the Iranian government. They considered me a close confidant; someone who would take their secrets to his grave rather than divulge them.
As there are many turns in our lives, the Shah’s Government collapsed. Despite the fact that he was a few years younger than me with no apparent heart problems, he went on a journey from which no one has yet to return. Therefore, my previous commitment to the Shah and Alam to remain silent and protect their state secrets is inconsequential since neither one is still alive nor their government still in power. I believe that it is the legitimate right of the current and future generations of Iranians to know the truth about many aspects of their country’s recent history and events that had taken place behind the scenes on the road to acquire nuclear technology. My memoir is supported by many documents that are at my disposal as proof of evidence. I would like to remind our readers that in my memoir, I have neither questioned Dr. Akbar Etemad’s academic qualifications nor his credentials. Also, I have never claimed to possess the scientific knowledge or the expertise in the field of nuclear technology. Instead, I am striving to provide a historical insight into Iran’s aspiration for acquiring nuclear technology.
A trip to America
In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy  was elected as the new President of the United States. His style of leadership, personal beliefs and ideology led him to pursue a new domestic and foreign policy which was in sharp contrast with his predecessor. The Shah of Iran could no longer enjoy his warm and close relationship that he had developed with the former American administration. President Kennedy did not approve of the Shah’s style of leadership and his government’s policy. He predicted that some day the Iranian people would hold the American government responsible for the Shah’s misconduct and his government’s pursuit of failed policies. As history attested, he was correct in his prediction.
On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated and his Vice President, Lyndon Johnson , was duly appointed by the Constitution of the United States as the new President. According to the customary norms and practices in the international community, the Shah expressed his deep sorrow and congratulatory messages on behalf of his nation via a telex to the White House. His telex was accompanied by a note in which he expressed his hope and desire for the American Administration to increase their purchase of Iranian oil and to extend financial and military aid to Iran. The new President neither shared the views of his predecessor nor was he as stubborn as Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson and his administration were very frustrated and deeply preoccupied with the Vietnam War and its geo-political fallout in Southeast Asia. Hence, contrary to Kennedy’s policy, he immediately replied to the Shah’s telex and invited him to the White House.
The Shah’s sole intention for meeting the new President was to persuade him to purchase more Iranian oil. Along with myself, as the consultant for the PanAm Oil  company (later as Amoco), the Shah was accompanied by his Minster of Royal Court, Amir Assadollah Alam , Dr. Reza Fallah , an Iranian oil industries expert and the deputy chairman of the National Iranian Oil company. Fallah had come along to negotiate a deal with the independent oil companies that were not part of the American oil consortium. President Johnson had decided to follow the policies of JFK and requested a reduction of 25% in the Iranian military annual budget in exchange for his endorsement of the sales of advanced military hardware (excluding nuclear weapons).
During this trip, the Shah was scheduled to travel to a number of U.S. cities, including Chicago, to receive his honoree doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. President Johnson had provided the presidential aircraft (Air Force One) and its crew to the Shah for his travel to the U.S. cities. His late Minster of Royal Court, Mr. Amir Assadollah Alam, and I were also traveling with him to Chicago. Since I was never part of the Royal court, I was not accustomed to conversing with him according to the Royal protocol. Consequently, my conversation with him was always direct and casual, and I dared to challenge his views up to a point.
On the flight to Chicago, I requested permission to discuss a topic that had no prior business involvement on my part. He said “state what’s on your mind before you forget”. I replied “since the U.S. President will not support your request for America to increase its purchase of Iranian oil that would, in return, allow you to purchase more arms, why not consider acquiring nuclear weapons? It will reduce the need to purchase more sophisticated arms and military hardware and will add to Iran’s prestige among the international community. He asked, “How can we obtain it?” I replied “the same way the Chinese did”. He said “Russia was the one who supplied China with the weapon and they have regretted it so bitterly ever since”. I replied “We can buy it from the Chinese or others”. He asked “How?” I replied “with money.” He went through deep thought for a moment and suddenly was interrupted by the captain’s announcement on the intercom that we were about to land in 10 minutes at the Chicago Airport, and the weather was rainy. The Shah said,” I did not bring a rain coat with me!” I offered him mine; he tried it on and said “it is a bit small and tight, but it fits the purpose and is fine.” He wore my dark navy blue rain coat and left the aircraft and never brought up the nuclear technology topic again. I dared not either.
Trip to Mashhad and the secret behind my invitation
The 1970 Iranian New Year (Norooz 1349) coincided with the Muharram . Alam insisted that since the arrival of the New Year has always been celebrated as a national holiday and a day of joy throughout Iranian history, this New Year should also be celebrated despite the fact that it coincided with Muharram. However, it was opposed by the Shah’s mother, Malekeh Madar , and Dr. Hassan Imami , the then Imam Jom-eh Tehran (Religious Leader of Tehran). Finally, it was decided that the Shah, along with a number of his ministers (excluding the former prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda  who was falsely known of the Bahai Faith) go on a pilgrimage to Mashhad and also conduct a small and simple celebration of the arrival of the New Year.
The day before the New Year day, I was contacted by Abolfath Atabay , the former deputy of the Royal Court, who called and informed me that I would need to get ready immediately as he was going to take me to the airport at once. He did not provide me with any explanation as to the nature and purpose of his call. Within minutes of his call, he arrived at my office with the offer to take me to the airport as well as answer any of my questions concerning this trip. While we were driving to the airport, he provided me with a copy of a royal itinerary and a list of invitees who were accompanying the Shah on his trip to Mashhad. I told him “I do not see my name on the list.” He replied “it’s all right; It is His Excellency’s (Shah) wish to take you along.” Since I was not prepared for any trip, I had nothing to take with me; no personal belongings or even any money.
As soon as we got to the airport, the helicopter that was carrying the Shah and his Minister of Royal Court, Alam, landed as well. According to the royal protocol, all accompanying ministers and dignitaries had boarded the plane prior to the Shah. However, Atabay removed one of the dignitaries and shoved me into the plane. The Shah, a few minutes later, upon concluding a short conversation with the leader of both parliaments and attending the customary farewell religious ceremony conducted by the Imam Jom-eh, boarded the plane and got into the pilot’s seat and took off. I found myself onboard a plane seated amongst a bunch of royalists and ministers not knowing anyone or understanding why I was there. I felt like a patch of dissimilar color. (Fig: sticking out like an eye sore). Awhile later, Alam came by to make sure that I had boarded the plane. I asked him “what is going on?” He replied nothing and walked away.
When we landed at the Mashhad airport, the royalists and ministers got into their limousines that were waiting on the airport tarmac and drove away, as did the Shah who was planning on attending a pilgrimage at the Shrine of Imam Reza. I was left by myself, so I waited around to see if someone was going to send a car to pick me up. No one showed up. So, while I was walking toward the main terminal, I noticed that a small plane that belonged to the Air Taxi fleet (of which I was a shareholder in the company) had just landed. Its pilot, along with the royalist who was forced off the Shah’s plane to create room for me, walked off the plane. He brought me a package that contained a few days worth of personal belongings and clothes along with one hundred Toman (Iranian currency which was worth $15 back in 1970). We all drove toward the Hyatt Hotel (Khayam) together. We discovered there were no room reservations made for us, and the hotel was completely sold out. I decided to go to the restaurant to rest for a little while and also grab something to eat.
Incidentally, I met a friend of mine, Mr. Mohammad Ali Mahdavi . He invited me to join him for lunch. As I was being seated and getting comfortable, suddenly, a representative of the Royal Court entered the restaurant and walked straight toward me and said “His Excellency, the Shah, is waiting for you and Alam to join him for lunch.” When I arrived at the Shah’s Malek Abod Palace, I found everyone seated at an oval lunch table. I bowed to His Excellency. He kindly replied, “where have you been, please be seated.” I sat on a chair which was directly across from him. To his left was seated Amir Hoshang Davanloo . To his left was an empty chair. Suddenly Alam arrived in the room. The Shah, in a complaining voice said “Where have you been? Be seated.” Alam took the chair and did not say anything. We had a very good lunch with the Shah. He conversed with everyone in a very friendly manner and asked questions from the attendees and had good conversations. As always, I was listening intently and completely silent throughout their dialogue. When he asked a question, I provided a very brief reply.
Once we were finished with lunch, the Shah got up and told us that he would return to Tehran tomorrow. Then he turned to Alam and asked him if there was a place for Mahvi to stay? Alam replied that a room had been prepared for me in the building that houses the palace staff. Upon the Shah’s departure from the lunch room, Alam approached me and told me that the Shah is planning to take a walk after his dinner at 10:00 PM in the palace garden. My presence was required as he wished to discuss a matter with me. As expected, he arrived at the garden at 10:00 PM and commanded me to accompany him as he wished to discuss a very confidential matter that must remain a secret between us. He paused and remained silent for a moment and then continued. “Do you remember what you said on the Presidential plane while we were traveling to Chicago?” I replied “not only do I remember what I said on that historical flight, but I also took your silence as affirmation of my proposition. I tried to take it as far as I could on my own. I have spent a lot of time and incurred expenses and conducted research and have studied the subject in detail.” The Shah replied, “I believe that you enjoy getting involved with new technology. Now, show me what you can do.” He then shared with me his real intention of placing an order for a 5 megawatt research reactor for Tehran University. It was a means for acquiring the nuclear weapon. Prior to the sale of the reactor, the Americans had become suspicious of our intention and had sent a bilateral agreement for us to sign. In order to remove any doubt in their minds about our real intention, our government had no choice but to sign the agreement.
Since then, the reactor has been installed, but still does not operate correctly; it appears to be missing some of its parts. When we requested the missing parts, we were presented with another more stringent reciprocal agreement, which in our opinion was very one-sided, protecting only their interests. The government has not signed this new agreement as it is still negotiating its terms and conditions. Therefore, it will take many years for us to obtain our goal. He then said “now tell me, what is your plan?” I replied “In my opinion, there are only three ways to acquire nuclear know-how. The first one is to acquire the knowledge through espionage which I am not capable of doing and requires vast resources, organization, and funding. The second one is through purchase of the nuclear technology which also requires huge funding; I could assist General Tofunnian  in that respect. The better approach is for the Shah to announce that he intends to replace oil with nuclear energy as the source of electricity production for Iran. After all, it was the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana who, while attending a meeting with His Excellency, brought it to his attention that it is such a waste of oil to burn it to produce energy.” The Shah interrupted me and said, “The Petrochemical Company of today was created as a result of that meeting.” I continued, “Upon your announcement that you intend to use nuclear power as the means to produce electricity, I would make the necessary arrangements with the Americans and Europeans for the sale of two 300 megawatt reactors in cash. This way, within three years and at the maximum cost of $900 million we can obtain the nuclear technology know-how without any impact on our military budget. It is critical that the sales contract is signed with the seller country in absolute secrecy.”
The Shah approved of this last plan of approach and said goodbye, but suddenly turned around from the second step on the stairs and told me, “This is the holiday season, and I need to give our conversation more thought and figure out the source of funding. I need to wait and see if Reza Fallah can make an in-road into a new oil contract.” He reminded me that our conversation was very confidential.
On May 23, 1973 (2 Khordad 1352) once again I had the honor of accompanying his majesty to the city of Mashhad. During our lunch, the Shah turned to his ministers and began to share some of his future grand vision for Iran with them. He also made a brief reference to the production of electricity through nuclear power technology. While on that topic, he kept looking at me. From the look on his face, it became apparent to me that Reza Fallah had succeeded in securing the additional oil contract. Twenty four hours later, the Shah (see Alam memoir, 3rd book, pages 67 to 69) declared that Iran’s population will reach 60 million over the next 20 years, and the country needs to be prepared to provide food, housing and employment for its citizens. He also declared Iran’s intent to stop burning oil for the production of electricity and rather use its oil, her God-given natural gift, for industrial applications that would produce additional jobs. He declared it was Iran’s intent to acquire two 300 megawatt nuclear power reactors in order to generate electricity and gradually increase their number to twenty. The cost of acquiring nuclear power reactors will be funded by Iran’s oil revenue.
I immediately registered the Iranian Nuclear Energy Company (INECO) and appointed Mohammad Sadegh Saeedi  as its president as well as proceeding with dialogue with Bechtel  and Westinghouse. I was also approached by a Siemens representative in Iran who was aware of my newly registered company, INECO. He wanted to know if I could see a role for them in my new venture. I responded positively but with reservation. Bechtel owned the largest consulting organization in the world. I, along with Reza Fallah , represented its interest in Iran’s southern oil pipeline route to the Mediterranean Sea via Turkey. I, along with my son Pascal and INECO’s managing director, flew to San Francisco to meet with Mr. Bechtel Sr. and a few others. Mr. Bechtel Sr. welcomed us as his guest of honor and we enjoyed his hospitality for three nights. As an old habit of mine, I documented our agreement in a memorandum of understanding which did not bear any signature. Mr. Bechtel Sr. also provided us with his private jet for our tour of Bechtel nuclear power plants in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
As I was very tired and needed to rest, I excused myself from the trip so my son, along with the INECO managing Director and his team, continued with their tour of the Bechtel nuclear power plant facilities and flew to Los Angeles. The site visit was supposed to start at 9:00 AM and be finished by 4:00 PM. At 4:00 PM I was notified via telephone that there had been a terrible accident at the Los Angeles nuclear power plant, and it was possible that my son had been exposed to radiation. I did not hear the rest of the telephone conversation and collapsed in my hotel room. The next thing I remembered was that I was surrounded by doctors and medical staff, and I was under their care. I was told that after careful medical examination, it was determined that Pascal had not been exposed to any radiation, and he was on his way back to the hotel. The next day, he flew to Portland, Oregon on Bechtel’s private jet to tour the facility and then returned back to Los Angeles.
Upon my return to Tehran, I submitted a detailed report with regard to the latest technology and innovation for production of plutonium from uranium to the Shah. Shortly after, my late friend, Mesbah Jollynous,  was transferred to the National Oil Company as a section manager. He informed me that he had just learned that an employee of the ministry of power and energy of Iran had signed a memorandum of understanding with a Bechtel representative in Tehran and had paid $40,000 as a prepayment toward the purchase of two 300 megawatt nuclear power reactors from Bechtel. The employee was on his way to San Francisco to work out the detail of the Plant Contract agreement, and upon his return to Tehran, the final agreement would be signed. I immediately conveyed my objection to Bechtel and let them know that with such unprofessional behavior, they could no longer hope to conduct any business with me. I immediately modified my un-signed memorandum of understanding, which I had prepared in San Francisco for Bechtel, to reflect KWU  as the new business partner and notified Bechtel of doing so.
Upon purchase of two 300 megawatt power plants, KWU agreed to reimburse me for all incurred expenses since 1969 through its gained profit over a period of time. Hence, INECO moved its operation and occupied two floors of the newly established Mahvi’s Foundation Building as the place of its business. At that time, there was no sign of Dr. Akbar Etemad or AEOI’s presence in Iran.
Saeedi, on behalf of INECO, made a number of trips abroad to recruit nuclear scientists and specialists for Iran. His effort was fruitful and led to the hiring of a number of scientists who were going to work in Iran under foreign experts and specialists. I established a training program in Tehran for Iranian students to become experts in the nuclear field. The only prerequisite was for them to demonstrate their strong knowledge of science and physics. The plan was to teach them basic knowledge and required skills concerning nuclear power and sends them abroad to France and Germany for the continuation of their education. Upon their return, they were obligated to work at the nuclear facilities and assist us with the day-to-day operations as nuclear specialists and eventually pay back the cost of their education.
However, as the Shah had mentioned during my trip with him to Mashhad, America had already provided a 5 megawatt nuclear reactor to Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC) for the sole purpose of research and science projects. This reactor was sold to Iran during former U.S. president, Eisenhower’s term as part of his “Atom for Peace” program. The reactor was run by foreign technicians, and the entire operation was managed by Mehdi Sarum and Ali Sekhavat (an Army colonel in civilian clothes). There was also an organization within the Ministry of Finance (Vezarat –Eghtesad) that dealt with the financial aspect of the research reactor project which was managed and run by Dr. Alikhani, who later transferred it to the Planning Organization (Saz-mone Barnameh). The word of nuclear technology started to spread around various circles in Iran. It is interesting to remind the readers that Dr. Etemad never considered himself as being attached or associated with the aristocrats and elites, and he was introduced to Asfiyar  either through his old classmate, Reza Ghotbi,  or through his sponsorship by Dr. Eghbal . Also, in his interview with Mr. Afkhami’s, “Iran Nuclear Program, Challenges,” published by Iran Information Foundation (Bonyade Etela ata Iran), 1977, page 142 he has mentioned that he always tried to distance himself from the aristocrats and the elite circle as much as possible. Later, I will mention a few words about his relationship with the princess Ashraf Pahlavi  before and after the Iranian revolution, but suffice it to say that ironically Dr. Etemad never considered Princess Ashraf or Reza Ghotbi as members of the upper echelon of Iran’s elite society.
Etemad had become the head of newly established “Bo Ali” University in his home town through his wife Roshanak who was Princess Ashraf’s secretary at the time. Bo Ali University’s budget was also mostly funded through the National Iranian Oil Company, which was headed by Dr. Manouchehr Eghbal. The Crown Prince, Reza Pahlavi,  was the honorary head of the university.
While being appointed to manage Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that his office was in Tehran, Etemad still remained as head of Bo Ali University, not officially transferred to the ministry.
Eventually, Etemad, who had come up through the ranks not because of his technical expertise and knowledge, but rather through his reliance on his association with the upper echelon of society was introduced to the Shah by then Prime Minister, Hoveyda. In fact, Alam had found Hoveyda a flatterer and someone who did not have the patience or desire to pay any attention to the day-to-day matters of Iran’s nuclear program. Initially, the Shah was reluctant to appoint Etemad as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Iran’s nuclear program, but eventually gave in to Hoveyda and appointed Etemad to that post, which was a great relief for Hoveyda. Alam was convinced that Hoveyda’s lack of attention to details would eventually cause the demise of both himself and the Shah from power. Etemad’s appointment did not fit in with the Iranian government’s political hierarchical structure. Etemad, at best, should have been appointed no higher then the Deputy to the Minister of Energy as this was a semi-independent organization and better suited to handle Iran’s nuclear program. The Minister of Energy had full accountability for any energy-related projects. To sum it up, the building blocks of the Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) of Iran were laid, but for a while, it did not have any budget or organization in place. Eventually, it created its own structure and was given an astronomical budget to the tune of $2 billion a year (Page 85, Etemad interview with Afkhami). Had I been given this budget, I would have spent it on building houses for the Iranian farmers where thousands of them were killed by earthquakes and other natural disasters.
When I became aware of the extent of AEOI’s budget and the magnitude of its operations, I discussed my role and INECO’s mission with the Shah at the first opportunity. I felt there was no need for the continuation of INECO under my leadership, and it should be transferred to Dr. Etemad’s organization. The Shah disagreed and told me not to bother with AEOI any longer, but continue with the INECO operations.
The Shah considered Etemad his teacher and source of knowledge with regard to nuclear technology. Etemad used to take many expensive trips abroad and travel in style. He used to meet with the ill and exhausted Shah privately whenever he was in town, mostly in the afternoons. Often, he would try to drive his own agenda and implant the seeds for his own ideas in the Shah’s mind. The Shah decided to meet with me occasionally, especially around the same time in the afternoon as he would have normally met with Etemad, but, not including Dr. Etemad. I requested from the Shah to allow me to continue with my work and meet with him at different times as these meetings put me in a very uncomfortable situation with Etemad. Specifically, a few times he had seen me waiting around to meet with the Shah while he was supposedly meeting with him as well. I was always wondering if the Shah had a different motive in mind. Dr. Etemad was an electrical engineer by trade as he had admitted in his interview with Afkhami. His doctoral thesis was based on the research material conducted at the Atomic Research Center in Switzerland. He had very little experience in the nuclear field, and it was mostly academic. The sudden rise of his star in Iran was not based on his technical qualifications, but rather through his political assets. In no way was he qualified to lead planning, designing, and construction of Iran’s nuclear power facilities. Since Etemad had realized that the Shah’s vision was limited to what he had planted in the Shah’s mind, he took advantage of the opportunity at hand and designed the overall plan for Iran’s nuclear power generation program within a month. It was immediately approved by the Shah and he made Etemad the Deputy Prime Minister of Iran’s nuclear energy program. Etemad then proceeded to develop the overall charter and articles of incorporation for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran which he totally copied from the charters and by-laws of the French and Swiss government’s atomic organizations. These organizations had the necessary foundation, technical know-how and expertise, but Etemad’s organization lacked the basics.
At the request of the Shah, the Iranian government and the Majlis  rushed to approve a $2 billion annual budget for Etemad’s organization with no oversight. Etemad had no accountability to any one in the government. The difference between the AEOI and similar organizations in other countries was that the AEOI was a totally independent organization with no oversight by its government. It had a huge budget with no check and balance system in place and Etemad had complete carte-blanches to spend as much as he felt was necessary. Case in point was when Etemad decided to modify KWU/ Siemens turnkey contract and hired a highly over paid soldering technician, who resided in the United States,(Etemad’s interview with Afkhami-page 38) to come to Iran. As Etemad confirmed in his interview with Afkhami, there was no limit to the spending of the AEOI budget, and sky was the limit. His lavish spending of the AEOI budget was well known within his organization. He took frequent trips around the world with first class accommodation with no specific agenda. He had established a super luxury office space in Montparnasse in Paris and a few other expensive office spaces around the world that served no purpose other than feeding his ego and making his name well known around the world. He made no reference to his excessive spending habits in his lengthy interview with Afkhami. I want to emphasis that I have never questioned Dr. Etemad’s integrity or accused him of taking any money from the AEOI for his personal use. He simply did not care about how much money was being wasted and had no expectation from others to produce any results.
As the consultant to Siemens, I was personally aware of many of these unreasonable expenditures. KWU could not have secured their turnkey contract without agreeing to pay more than 2 percent in commission to Prince Shahram, who frequently used his mother’s (Princess Ashraf) influence to impose his own conditions. I brought Prince Shahram’s demands from KWU to the Shah’s attention, and he did not approve and ordered not to pay. I conveyed the Shah’s instruction to the Siemens representatives, but since Siemens was planning to conduct a lot of long term business in Iran, they decided to make partial payment of the DM 150 Million to Shahram and agreed to pay the rest because they felt that Shahram and his mother could have created a lot of road blocks and problems for Siemens long term interest in Iran.
The French company, Framatome, took a different approach as Dr. Etemad described it in his interview with Mr. Afkhami (Page 148). It is so interesting that both companies claimed they had paid all these bribes out of their own pockets without adding their cost to the overall contract prices. The French had decided to pay the former royal family of France for securing the Framatome contract, and when the Shah was asked about it he replied, “It is not our business.”
It is very odd that the interviewer did not ask Dr. Etemad to elaborate on this issue and question whether the payment was made to the royal family of France. Why did Framatome request permission from the Iranian government to make the payment to the Royal family? Would anyone believe that ultimately the cost of these bribes would not be added to the total price of the contract? I personally knew that Siemens, with the full knowledge of the German government, had deposited up to 20% of the contract price for bribery payment without the need to seek approval from the Federal Ministry of Finance. Usually, payment of any amount over 20% would have required prior approval from the Ministry of Finance. French and other European companies have always signed an affidavit confirming that they would never make any payment to anyone or any entity outside the contracts, but in reality, French, German, and Japanese companies have always been caught involved with various financial scandals and briberies.
Etemad and INECO
Upon appointment of Dr. Etemad by the Shah as the head of the Iran Nuclear Energy Organization, as customary, his appointment was confirmed by the Iranian government and both Majleses. Shortly after his appointment, he visited the five-storied headquarters of INECO, but of course he forgot to mention this trip in his interview. During his visit, I suggested that as soon as he got his budget funded, he should either buy and take over INECO or hire us as his contractor. This would allow him to get his office space organized and his infrastructure in place for his new organization. He welcomed my proposition as he quickly realized that INECO was much farther ahead than what he had originally envisioned. Our technical experts were fully trained and on-board, our infrastructure in place, and the company up and running at full speed. So, at the least, in order to save face or perhaps for a period of time, he decided to temporarily retain INECO’s consulting services for his organization.
In order to purchase nuclear power reactors from the foreign companies, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) desperately needed to draft a Letter of Agreement template that could be used during its negotiations. In the absence of having the AEOI budget funded, INECO agreed to assume the cost of drafting such an agreement, provided that AEOI reimbursed the entire cost as soon as its budget was funded. To that end, Sadegh Saeedi , as the Managing Director of INECO along with Pascal Mahvi, was asked to create the Letter of Agreement template. Dr. Akbar Etemad’s deputy, Dr. Ahmad Sotoodehnia , along with INECO’s Managing Director departed for Zurich to work on the assignment. Since Dr. Etemad was very familiar with the Swiss’ nuclear power electrical generation capability, he suggested that INECO retain Electrowatt as a consultant to assist them with this task. Electowatt was one of the largest international companies, with a very solid track record, and was hired to assist us with drafting the agreement template. As a result of extensive collaboration between INECO and Electowatt technical experts, and detailed analysis of every term and condition, we were able to create the draft of the Letter of Agreement within a few months. This draft was so well written and comprehensive that it encompassed the Shah’s political and strategic objectives, Iran’s long term interests, as well as the American and European interests. It was so comprehensive that could have been used as template for purchase of the Nuclear Power Plant from any country. However, in the end, the AEOI never reimbursed INECO for its incurred expenses.
INECO was supposed to deliver a number of highly-trained personnel capable of performing various assignments at “would-be-built nuclear plants” to AEOI by 1983. The plan by KWU was to deliver the first two nuclear reactors (Iran-1 and Iran-2) to Iran within two years. Therefore, the work for building nation-wide nuclear power grids was supposed to start as soon as the KWU contract was signed, but no real work started until the Iranian Revolution.
By the time I was getting ready to leave my country permanently, INECO had scores of Iranian technicians and engineers in Europe and America being trained so they could go back to Iran and take care of the nuclear facilities that were going to be built and run by KWU. I had also donated my company, INECO, to the Abolfath Mahvi Educational Foundation, and Dr. Akbar Etemad was appointed as a member to its board of directors by the Shah. The training cost of the personnel was DM 30 million in the first 3 to 4 years. According to the plant contract, this cost was to be paid by the Abolfath Mahvi Educational Foundation, which was later to be reimbursed for this expense by KWU. One must question why Dr. Etemad has never mentioned anything about either INECO or how the “Letter of Agreement” was drafted and signed by KWU in his interview.
Dr. Etemad has mentioned in his interview that nuclear energy is not a small undertaking. Instead of starting from a small scale, learn from the experiment, and gradually build up to a much larger schedule, he opted for the big-bang approach. The funding had to be significant enough from the very beginning in order to support a large-scale system implementation. He claimed that he had convinced the Shah that one cannot start this effort on a small scale and learn from it gradually. Therefore, he was given a huge funding from its inception, and the self-proclaimed nuclear expert decided that two 300 megawatt reactors were not adequate for Iran’s electrical energy supply demand. He started the project by building two massive 1200 megawatt nuclear power plants. To date, after nearly 30 years, there is not a single 1200 megawatt power plant in production any where in the world. The original budget of DM 900 million, for the two 300 megawatt plants that the Germans proposed to build in two years, went up by tenfold, and the time required for the project increased from two years to seven. In the mean time, Dr. Etemad, just like any other responsible teacher, continued to meet the Shah every afternoon at 3:00 PM and kept adding to His Excellency’s surface-level knowledge of the field. This was during the time the Shah kept losing his memory as a result of taking various cancer medications.
One day, I was called to the Shah’s palace as he wanted to meet with me. He was wondering why he had not received the proposal for sales of any nuclear technology from Siemens. I replied, “Siemens is waiting to receive the final approval from the German Government, which should not take more than a couple of weeks.” Subsequently, I kept pressing hard on the German ambassador to Iran, Dr. Hans. George Wiek , until his government’s approval was delivered to the Shah. The German Government approval was conditional upon the Iranian Government’s acceptance and signing of a bilateral agreement. The Shah instructed his Prime Minister, Hoveyda, to sign and accept the agreement at once. Subsequently, Siemens also agreed to an unconditional “Turnkey Contract”, which provided the means for the supply of any nuclear technology to Iran. As a result, the Shah was very pleased by this development and granted his verbal approval for the signing of the first nuclear power plant contract with KWU on behalf of Siemens. He also instructed me to continue with my secret effort.
Although Dr. Etemad claimed in his interview (page 74) that his colleagues never took advantage of their position at AEOI nor was there ever any case of misuse at AEOI, (page 79) some of his vice presidents were involved with controlling the construction projects of the German company, HOCHTIEF Aktiengesellschaft, and French SPA. I was informed by his own office that as soon as he saw the Siemens contract, he secretly took a 24 hour trip to France and met with the French officials for conducting a personal negotiation. Later on, I learned that Etemad had informed the French officials that if they agreed with all the terms and conditions as stated in Siemens agreement, he would grant the all- cash contract to them instead of the Germans.
Etemad had over-estimated his own political capital with the Shah and presumed that his words were final, and he did not need to seek the Shah’s approval before meeting with his French counterparts. For the first time, he failed as the Siemens contract was not cancelled. As a result of Etemad’s meeting with his French counterparts and his secret negotiations in Paris, Giscard d'Estaing, the former French President, discussed the issue with the Shah himself. This resulted in the immediate dispatch of a group of 18 French scientists and experts along with General Bushaleh, the chairman of Framatome .
General Bushaleh, the father of France’s nuclear bomb, arranged a meeting with me prior to his trip to Iran. Upon his arrival in Tehran, he, along with his team, came to my house in Farmenieh. Since I was tied up in another meeting, I was not able to meet with him on time which made him wait for a while. He then became irritated and decided to leave, but I hurriedly went to meet with him and extended my apology for being late. When we started our dialogue he asked me, “Are you able to collaborate with Framatome?” I responded positively. He told me that he would be in touch with me, but I sensed that he was unhappy with my late arrival for our meeting. He left my office for a meeting with Dr. Etemad. While we were saying good-bye, I asked him if Dr. Etemad was aware of our meeting, and he replied, “No, and please keep our meeting confidential.”
As soon as the KWU management became aware of Giscard d'Estaing planned trip to Iran, despite the fact that they spent many months in Iran and made a lot of preliminary preparation with the approval from the German Government for construction of the Bushehr Power plant, packed their suite cases, said good-bye to me and now they have to leave Iran empty handed.
As far as I had learned through my contacts with French contractors, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, through her partnership with Aziz Farmonfarmaya , and Professor Yahya Adel, were indirect representatives of Framatome in Iran. Nevertheless, Framatome had not been able to make any headway in Iran. In the end, they decided that President Giscard d'Estaing should take a trip to Iran and not leave Iran empty-handed. As a token of appreciation for his trip, they hoped that an agreement would be signed to replace KWU with Framatome.
Dr. Akbar Etemad has not mentioned anything about many topics, or if he has, he has grossly exaggerated them in his interview. Some of the issues discussed in his interview should be taken at face value only and with a grain of salt. In fact, from reading his interview, it is so obvious that he comes across as an inexperienced manager who put too much emphasis on his own work. He underestimated the complexity associated with transferring a sophisticated technology and considered the contribution of foreign specialists and scientists as trivial tasks. Perhaps, he had intentionally forgotten that the KWU agreement was a “turnkey contract” and neither he nor his numerous vice presidents, including Dr. Ahmad Sotoodehnia who signed the agreement, nor his lieutenants and lawyers had any experience or background in drafting and negotiating such a complex contract.
Dr. Etemad from the financial and technical (excluding political) points of view did not want to be held accountable to anyone. As a result, the budget requirements for acquiring the technology reached to DM 8 billion and another DM 2 billion was allocated toward the operating expenses of AEOI. According to his own statement, the cost of various investments in German, French, and British companies reached $12 Billion (excluding the cost of building the infrastructure and the power grids for distribution of electricity throughout the country). In fact, the “Full Agreement” with the Shah, or as he alluded to in his interview,” His Excellency and Mine” (p. 95) was to “aim high” (p. 96). The construction cost of the two 1200 megawatt nuclear power plants in Bushehr, along with two 900 megawatt plants in Darkhovin and in Khozestan consumed the entire $30 Billion budget that had been allocated by the consortium to build the great civilization. Consequently, the remaining economic development programs that the Shah had envisioned for his country were left unfinished, and the government of Iran was confronted with financial crisis.
In order for our readers to have a better understanding of what was going on at this time in Iran, it is necessary to bring a few points from some of the thought provoking topics in Dr. Etemad’s interview to their attention.
- Dr. Etemad, in his interview, considered himself as the most intelligent man with a historical mission for the Shah (p. 96) and the people of Iran. He stated in his epical interview that “It was my duty at that time to demonstrate that we can produce uranium in Iran as quickly as possible so that the people of Iran, the Shah, and the rest of the government officials will realize that this is an achievable task” (p 97). Why do we have to realize that this is an achievable task? No one knows.
It makes you wonder about his claim to be a nationalist and a man with a historical mission to help his country. After all the expert advice given to the Shah, imposing his own unorthodox AEOI ministry on the Iranian nation, and acquiring vast amounts of money to create a huge organization, he has finally admitted that “to sum it up, I want to let you know that at the beginning, it was just like rope jumping in the show, because we were not in a position to become a real player” (p.23) and by bringing in a few Argentinean experts, we were just beginning to learn the technology and even then, we still did not have any clear vision or plan of approach” (p.30).
It is obvious he was building a house on pretty weak foundations. Based on the events that have taken place, Mr. Electrical Engineer or the Doctor of Nuclear Sciences, Akbar Etemad, would be among a handful of people that contributed to the financial and political bankruptcy and the eventual demise of the Shah’s government. The new Revolutionary Government, that overthrew the Shah’s government, should extend its deepest gratitude and appreciation to him. It makes you wonder if, in fact, his self-proclaimed historical mission was really just that. In the midst of the Iranian Revolution, he resigned from his post and along with his old buddy, Reza Ghotbi , left Iran for Paris.
It’s worth mentioning that with all Dr. Etemad’s academic and/or so-called professional qualifications and background in the nuclear power field, with the exception of only one occasion, he has never been able to secure any position with either academic, business establishments or Framatome (either as a researcher or as management consultant) since the Iranian Revolution. After being unemployed for a while in Paris, the single opportunity that he was able to secure was with Siemens/KWU. He was paid DM 270,000 by Siemens to conduct a study with regard to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Program. Finally, this highly-regarded nuclear power scientist, a senior member of Mohammad Reza Shah’s Government, and the former independently-minded, hard-working head of the Atomic Energy of Iran ended up in London at the Keyhan  Newspaper, supposedly financed by Princess Ashraf Pahlavi . The fact that he has decided to demonstrate his hidden talent and put it to work as a journalist at this newspaper attests to his deep relationship and ties to his past. Most likely it also attests to the wheeling and dealing that was going on behind the scenes in the nuclear power business. His close relationship with Princess Ashraf was known throughout Iran even prior to the Revolution as his wife was Princess Ashraf’s secretary.
Excerpt from this memoir in Persian.
 Shah –An Iranian term for a monarch (leader). Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, (October 26, 1919, Tehran – July 27, 1980, Cairo), styled His Imperial Majesty, and holding the imperial titles of Shahanshah (King of Kings), and Aryamehr (sun of the Aryans), was the monarch of Iran from September 16, 1941, until the Iranian Revolution on February 11, 1979. He was the second monarch of the Pahlavi House and the last Shah of the Iranian monarchy
 Dr. Akbar Etemad – Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) 1974 - 1978.
 Radio Farda - Radio Farda and RadioFarda.com is a joint project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA).
 Le Monde - French newspaper
 Gholam Rez Afkhami - Barnameh-ye enerji-ye atomi-ye iran, talash-ha va tanesh-haa, a history of Iran's Atomic Energy Program as told by Akbar Etemad,. The book, published in 1997 by the Foundation for Iranian Studies in Bethesda, Maryland, USA
 Siemens/KWU - In the 1960s, AEG and Siemens merged their activities in the sector of conventional and nuclear power plants, Kraftwerk Union AG
 Baha-Edin-Mirza Dadston –Abolfath Mahvi father’s uncle son (cousin) who married the Shah full aunt
 Major General (Sar Lash Kar) Farhad Dadseton – Tehran Military Governor
 Lieutenant General (Sepah Bod) Iraj Mahvi – Commander of Imperial Guard
 Amir Assdollah Alam - The longest serving minister of the Pahlavi’s Royal Court 1919 -1978
 John F. Kennedy - John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917–November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the thirty-fifth President of the United States
 Lyndon Johnson – (1908 – 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was the thirty-sixth President of the United States, serving from 1963-1969
 PanAm Oil - Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company, Standard (Indiana) Oil or Amoco
 Reza Fallah - Deputy chairman of the Iran's National Oil Company from 1974 to 1979
 Moharram – The Islamic year begins on the first day of Muharram, and is counted from the year of the Hegira (anno Hegirae)—the year in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina (A.D. 622)
 Malekeh Madar -
 Dr. Hassan Imami - The shah own cleric-incourt, Sayyid Hassan Imami, the Imam Jum' ah of Tehran
 Amir Abbas Hoveyda - Prime Minister of Iran (1965-1979).
 Abolfath Atabay – Royal Court Deputy
 Mohammad Ali Mahdavi – Owner of Shiravon Sugar Factory
 Amir Hoshang Davanloo – Head of Royal Festivity and Events
 General Hassan Tofunnian – Vice Minster of War
 Mohammad Sadegh Saeedi – Former Managing Director of IBM in Iran and president of INECO.
 Bechtel - Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. nuclear power plants rely on Bechtel for operating serves. Since 1957, Bechtel had prime responsibility for more commercial generating plants than any other firm, accounting for more than 1200 reactor years of operation.
 Reza Fallah - Deputy chairman of the Iran's National Oil Company from 1974 to 1979
 Mesbah Jollynous – Former Managing Director of Tavanir
 KWU - Siemens/KWU - In the 1960s, AEG and Siemens merged their activities in the sector of conventional and nuclear power plants, Kraftwerk Union AG
 Asfiyar – Former head of the Planning Organization
 Reza Ghotbi - Head of the National Iranian Radio and Television 1967-1979, Son of Mohammad Ali Ghotbi, cousin of Farah Pahlavi (Diba), Empress of Iran, a widow and wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah of Iran.
 Dr. Manouchehr Eghbal, Chairman of National Iranian Oil Company
 Princes Ashraf Pahlavi - The twin sister of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran and the Pahlavi Dynasty
 Reza Pahlavi – The Crown Prince - He succeeded his father as Head of the House of the Pahlavi dynasty living in exile
 Majlis - The National Consultative Assembly, Majlis was also the name of the lower house of the Iranian Legislative body from 1906 to 1979, the upper house being the Senate - also the Iranian Parliament
 Mohammad Sadegh Saeedi- Managing Director or INECO and former President of IBM in Iran.
 Ahmad Sotoodehnia – Dr. Etemad ‘s Vice President at AEOI who replaced Etemad in 1978
 Hans George Wiek - German Ambassador to Tehran/Iran 1974-1977
 Framatome SA - Called Franco-Américaine de Constructions Atomiques (Framatome), the original company consisted of four engineers, one each from each of the parent companies. The original mission of the company was to act as a nuclear engineering firm and to develop a nuclear power plant that was to be identical to Westinghouse's existing product specifications - It is a diversified, international manufacturing company and also the world leader in nuclear power generation.
 Abdol Aziz Farmonfarmayan was of the most famous Iranian Architect and the owner of Farmanfarmayan Company. He built Niavaran Palace in Northern Tehran
 Abdol Reza Ansari - Governor of Khuzestan, Deputy Finance Minister, Treasurer, Minister of Labour
 Majles-e Shura-ye Melle – The National Consultative Assembly, Majlis was also the name of the lower house of the Iranian Legislative body from 1906 to 1979, the upper house being the Senate - also the Iranian Parliament
 Amir Abbas Hoveyda - He served as Prime Minister of Iran from January 27, 1965 to August 7, 1977.
 Dr. Jamshid Amuzegar - (also Amouzegar) (1923 - ) is a former Prime Minister of Iran
 Hushang Ansary - Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs under Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda of Iran. He also served as the last President of National Iranian Oil Company
 Henry Kissinger - Secretary of State in the Richard Nixon administration (1973 – 1977)
 Giscard d'Estaing was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981
 Reza Ghotbi – Head of the National Iranian Radio and Television 1967-1979, Son of Mohammad Ali Ghotbi, cousin of Farah Pahlavi (Diba), Empress of Iran, a widow and wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah of Iran.
 Kayhan Newspaper was originally established during the Pahlavi era, it became the most famous and respected newspaper of its time. When the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, all of its assets were seized, including the publishing plant which was the main headquarters of Kayhan Newspaper. The London offices of Kayhan continued but it currently has a small circulation in comparison to what it once had pre-revolution times.
 Princes Ashraf Pahlavi - Princess (Shahdokht) Ashraf ul-Mulk (born October 26, 1919), is the twin sister of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran and the Pahlavi Dynasty.
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|