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On February 25, 2009, the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrated another major milestone in its scientific and technological development, announcing that “successful tests” at its first nuclear reactor at Bushehr were carried out by the common efforts of the Iranians and their Russian partners in the project. The power plant is projected to be fully operational by the end of the year. “This, in simple terms, means that Bushehr power plant is completed… and its operation is definite,” Gholamreza Aqazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told Iranian state television. “The political concerns about Bushehr plant are now completely addressed today.” The start of operations at the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor near the southern Iranian port of Bushehr – built with Russian assistance under a $1 billion contract – had long been delayed, largely due to opposition and pressure on Russia from the United States, using their EU partners to forestall progress and completion.

The test did not involve batches of low-enriched uranium supplied to Iran by Atomstroiexport, the Russian state company that is building the plant. Instead “virtual” fuel was injected in the reactor, officials said. At the official opening — the first day of the Bushehr plant’s test run — head of the Rosatom State Atomic Corporation Sergei Kiriyenko addressed Western concerns about Iran’s recent nuclear achievement.

“We believe that the structure in the Bushehr plant itself is in total conformity with the Non-Proliferation,” the Russian official said. He added that Russia’s cooperation in building the Bushehr plant removes every doubt about Iran’s nuclear intentions, as the whole project is transparent in its entirety. “Those who think this project can be used for the proliferation of nuclear weapons can come here and see for themselves.”

While the western media along with Israeli Security Forces continue to make all kinds of noises and objections about this latest advance, Iran reiterated its right of peaceful pursuit of developing nuclear energy, being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and monitored under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The high degree of hypocrisy reflected in the outcries by officials in the United States and the European Union Trio (France, Germany and Britain) can be accurately measured with just a brief glance back into the history of nuclear technology in Iran.

The U.S. gave the Shah nuclear technology

Iran’s interest in nuclear energy, research and know-how began in the mid-1960’s under the direct tutelage of the U.S. within the framework of turning Iran, the way of Israel, into a regional and nuclear power for containing the movement of Arab Socialism and their orientation towards the then Soviet Union (Russia today). With the technical assistance of the U.S., the first nuclear research facility, namely, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center (TNRC), was built in Tehran University in 1967, and managed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), which was founded in 1974. Immediately after the founding of the TNRC, the U.S. sold a 5-megawatt research reactor to Iran that was installed at the Amirabad Technical College in Tehran, which runs on 93% highly-enriched uranium. The reactor could produce up to 600 grams of plutonium per year in its spent fuel. Simultaneously, the U.S. sold hot cells to Iran that could be used for separating plutonium from the spent fuel, and then used for the production of atomic bombs. The question that remains to be asked is why the U.S. sold the hot cells to the Shah, but is crying “foul” today?

According to de-classified U.S. government documents, cited extensively by Mohammad Sahimi, Professor and chairman of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, in his authoritative paper, “Iran’s Nuclear Program”, the U.S. government in the mid-1970’s advised “Iran to expand her non-oil energy base” by reasoning that “Iran needed not one but several nuclear reactors to acquire the electrical capacity that the Stanford Research Institute” paper in 1973 had proposed, and expressing interest in U.S. companies’ participation in Iran’s nuclear energy projects.

Emboldened by Washington’s encouragement, the Shah planned to build 23 nuclear power plants throughout the country, and no authority in the U.S., France, Israel or West Germany disputed the Shah’s extensive and expensive projects on the basis of the fact that Iran was rich in oil and natural gas deposits, the reasoning that the Bush Administration and opponents of Iran provided for the redundancy of plans for nuclear energy in Iran.

Germany and the Bushehr Project

Following the U.S. advocacy, in 1974 the Shah’s government signed a contract with (West) Germany’s Kraftwerk Union, a subsidiary of Siemens, to begin the construction of two 1200-megawatt nuclear reactors at Bushehr, a city in the south-western part of Iran. Soon, in 1975 the Atomic Energy organization of Iran (AEOI) signed a contract with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the training of the first group of Iranian nuclear engineers. Meanwhile, West Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. trained thousands of nuclear specialists from around the world. Iranian nuclear personnel received their training in Italy, Belgium, Canada, as well as the U.S.

By 1979, when the Revolution toppled the pro-U.S. monarchial regime, the Shah had reached contracts for a total of six nuclear power reactors with France, Germany and the U.S. The two 1200-megawatt German light-water power reactors at Bushehr were partly finished. The reactor Number 1 was 90% complete and 60% of its equipment was also installed, while Number 2 reactor was 50% complete. The Iraq-Iran war brought heavy damage to the core areas of both reactors.

The same atomic reactors that the West had advocated for and sold to the Shah at high prices just a few years earlier became the targets of Iraq’s French jet fighters at the behest of the U.S. after the 1979 revolution. This pattern of trade and political relations could be observed under the U.S.-European imperialist relations with the countries formerly under their domination.

After the Iraq-Iran war, the Islamic Republic of Iran, under President Rafsanjani, reinitiated Iran’s nuclear energy program and immediately approached Kraftwerk Union to complete the Bushehr project or ship the reactor components and technical documents that Iran had paid for. However, under U.S. pressure, the German government, and Kraftwerk Union refused to honor the contract or even return the money. Left in the cold, Iran filed a lawsuit in 1996 with the International Commerce Commission (ICC), asking for $5.4 billion in compensation. But the case is still unsettled.

U.S. Uses Nuclear Issue to Undermine Iran

The U.S. has used the nuclear enrichment issue, which is the right of those signatory to the NPT, to weaken Iran economically and undermine its political system. The world knows that all those countries, including the U.S., Britain and France, who readily agreed with the trade sanctions against Iran, they themselves are armed with atomic weapons numbering in the thousands, and in the case of the United States, has used these weapons on the people of Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore, they cannot be the best judges of who is a “threat” to the so-called international community.

Let it be known that Iran with its 3000-year history, a neighbor to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates, has not attacked any country in the last 200 years, while the U.S., in its short history of 230 years has been in war dozens of times, and has over 737 military bases stationed in more than one hundred countries around the world. One of the resentments that the Muslim nation of Iran had towards the Shah was his pro-Israeli policy. He paid a high price for this close association with the Zionist regime and his animosity toward the Arab nations, which was fostered by the U.S. administrations for the purpose of divide and rule.

After pursing years of hot war, including arming and supplying extremist groups, the U.S. strengthened its strategy of Cold War policies, whose main arsenal were trade sanctions actualized by bans on financial exchange and banking transactions. To justify its unilateral trade and investment foreign trade policies against Iran, the U.S. needed the backing of the United Nations, which could be solicited the best by presenting Iran’s nuclear energy program as a danger to the “world community”. But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), headed by Dr. Mohammad El Baradei, in its years of inspections and intrusive examinations has repeatedly declared that Iran has never diverted the hardware or the nuclear materials for building atomic bombs. As recently as last week, the U.S. Intelligence Agency reported that Iran has not engaged in construction of the necessary parts for the building of an atomic bomb.

In accord with the IAEA report, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran, made public in the first week of Dec. 2007, stated: “…that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program” and “that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons” in the future. Between the two aspects of the report, the former is essential and the latter mainly involves future speculations.

Furthermore, the U.S. Intelligence report made public on February 13, 2009, reaffirms the 2007 intelligence estimate that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003, if such a project existed at all. Retired Admiral Dennis Blair said U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran has not restarted nuclear weapon’s design and weaponization work that it halted in late 2003. This report was the result of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies investigations and research.

Will Obama seek peace with Iran?

The American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), founded in November of 2004, supported the election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency in 2008. Today and all along AIFC welcomed Obama’s foreign policy statements that the U.S. must change course and begin dialogue with the leaders of the countries that the previous administration have labeled as “enemies”. This rapprochement is only realizable if no pre-conditions such as demanding Iran’s suspension of its program of uranium enrichment are attached, and the U.S. must change its tone and respect the positions of Iran with regard to real security in the Middle East. It is time that the U.S. offers Iran security assurances that it will not use force to reach its foreign policy objectives. Any future interference in the internal affairs of Iran will be rebuffed as in the past. There is no such thing as “exporting democracy”. Such things as administering the country in the model of the West, or as changing the dress code, are the affairs of the Iranian people and not the countries that are seeking diplomatic and trade relations with Iran.

We hope the Obama Administration does not continue George Bush’s failed policies of war and aggression in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. The security of the region is the responsibility of the peoples of those countries in that region and no power from 10,000 miles away should dictate how the governments and people of those countries should resolve their differences. It is AIFC’s humble opinion that the relations between the United States and Iran must be based on mutual respect and mutual benefits, and not on the childish policy of “carrot and stick”, because Iran is not looking for handouts and is not a child that can be reprimanded.

Ardeshir Ommani is an Iranian-born writer and an activist in the U.S. anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle for over 40 years, including against the Vietnam War, and now the Iraq war. During the past seven years, he has participated in the U.S. peace movement, working to promote dialogue and peace among nations and to prevent a U.S.-spurred war on Iran. He holds two Masters Degrees: one in Political Economy and another in Mathematics Education. Co-founder of the American Iranian Friendship Committee, (AIFC), he writes articles of analysis on Iran -U.S. relations, the U.S. economy and has translated articles and books from English into Farsi, the Persian language. Please visit AIFC’s website to learn more about Iran and Global issues at . Two of his recent articles, “Capitalism’s Sign Post” can be viewed at:, and “Iran, the NIE and the Empire” at The author may be contacted at:

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