The Iran Brief®

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Iran's Nuclear Program: Myth and Reality


by Kenneth R. Timmerman

Director, the Middle East Data Project, Inc.; Publisher,The Iran Brief.

Copyright © 1995, Middle East Data Project,Inc.


Paper presented before the Sixth InternationalCastiglioncello Conference

Fifty Years After Hiroshima,


Castiglioncello, Italy, September 30, 1995.

Reprinted from

Fifty Years of Nuclear Weapons, Proceedings of the SixthCastiglioncello Conference, USPID, Milano (Italy), 1996



The Iraqi experience has been extremely instructive to prospectiveproliferators. It has also provided unique insight into the motivesand methods used by a determined proliferator for those of us on theother side who would like to prevent countries such as Iraq or Iranfrom acquiring weapons of mass destruction in the future. Furtherdown the road, it may help us to create multilateral securitymechanisms that help to alleviate the perceived need for theseweapons in the first place, although I am less sanguine on thisscore. The weapons programs currently in train in the Gulf are likelyto come to fruition before security mechanisms which have yet tobecome serious subjects of discussion, let alone negotiation.

One of the lessons the proliferators have learned, I believe, isthat a successful procurement program must have a "legend," aplausible story that will stand up to a certain level of publicscrutiny, to enable the proliferator to get around what remains ofWestern export controls. (Just what has become of Western exportcontrol systems, especially in light of the Clinton administration'sdramatic, unilateral decontrol of vast amounts of advancedtechnology, is a subject we should perhaps address during ourdiscussion).

These legends - or myths, as I call them - will vary inplausibility depending on the amount of opposition the proliferatorfaces from supplier governments. During the early and mid-1980s, forinstance, virtually any legend would succeed in countries such asGermany. German companies seeking to sell entire chemical weaponsplants to Iraq, Libya and Iran were able to do so legally, becausethe only provision in the export laws at that time that might hverestricted them forbade the sale of equipment "specially-designed"for the manufacture of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons . The"specially-designed" clause allowed the German government to closeits eyes to massive export contracts. The exporting companies wouldhave had to be foolish enough to declare their intention to buildchemical weapons plants to the German export control authorities inorder for the authorities to intervene.

The laws have changed, in Germany and elsewhere, requiring a moresophisticated cover story in order for companies and procurementfronts to bend the law to their advantage.

Perhaps the most difficult proliferation area for the exportcontrol community to combat nowadays is that of biological weapons.Although I won't be addressing the specifics of this in my talktoday, suffice it to say that a perfectly legitimate prophylacticprogram, to manufacture animal and human vaccines, is virtuallyindistinguishable from a military biological weapons program. Theequipment is the same; even the viral strains are the same in somecases. What is different is that most difficult of factors toquantify: intent.

And that brings me to the case at hand, Iran's nuclear program. IsIran seeking a nuclear weapons capability, as the United States andseveral European powers believe? Or is Iran, as it declares, merelyseeking to improve its scientific and industrial base, by engaging ina massive and increasingly costly nuclear power program?

There is no short answer to this conundrum. And that is why Paolohas given me the next 30 minutes or so to go into the details of whyI believe Iran is using its recently envigorated nuclear powerprogram as a "legend" - or myth - to disguise a clandestine nuclearweapons program.

Standards of proof

One word of caution before we go any further: it is my belief thatacademic standards of proof, such as those Iran demands be applied toit and such as the IAEA appears willing to apply, would not concludethat Iran is seeking a weapons program. That conclusion could only bedrawn if Iran actually tested a weapon; or if the IAEA or some otherinternational body were lucky enough to discover some piece ofincontrovertible documentary evidence, such as the UN SpecialCommission has only recently found in Iraq as regards that country'sbiological weapons program. And that evidence was not discoveredthrough sleuthing or intrusive inspections - a regime I do notbelieve we will ever see in Iran. That evidence was voluntarilyturned over by the Iraqis, in the wake of the defection of the formerhead of Iraq's WMD programs, Hussein Kamil.

At best, one can make a circumstantial case that Iran is procuringtechnology and building facilities that serve little other purposethan for nuclear weapons. At worst, the IAEA and and those countrieseager to maintain lucrative trading relations with Iran will arguethat the evidence is too thin to establish Iran's bad intentionsbeyond any reasonable doubt. They drew the same conclusion with Iraqin the 1980s, and look where that got us.

In other words, the Iranian 'legend" is not as flawed as somemight think. So for those of us who believe it is important toprevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapons capability, it will bea long, uphill struggle to convince Iran's suppliers of the dangerswe believe to exist.

The Iranian program under the Shah

The former Shah of Iran embarked on a very ambitious nuclearprogram in the 1960s. He purchased a small research reactor from theUnited States, and sent several hundred students to the West to studynuclear physics and engineering. Starting in the mid-1970, he begansigning contract with KWU of Germany and Alsthom in France to buildfour nuclear power reactors. As part of that power program, headvanced $1 billion to France's Framatome consortium to build theTricastin gas diffusion uranium enrichment plant. The contractstipulated that Iran would get up to 10% of the production from thatplant once it went on line.

Only one year after concluding these agreements, the Shah signed afollow-on MoU with France in 1975, to build a nuclear research centerin Isfahan, complete with two research reactors. And by the end ofthe decade, he had devised a plan to build as many as twenty nuclearpower stations across the country.

A contemporaneous analysis prepared by the Defense IntelligenceAgency, made available to me by David Schwartzbach, who has recentlyreturned to Princeton from the Natural Resources Defense Council,concluded that attempts to acquire "nuclear weapons would beconsonant with Iran's strong nationalism and pretensions as anemerging third world power." The 1977 DIA report also stated thatIran hoped to have at least one reactor and a small French-built fuelreprocessing facility operatonal in Isfahan by 1980.

According to the DIA, therefore, the Shah had concluded thatnuclear power and nuclear science would serve as an appropriate"legend" for a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Did the Shah alsointend to build nuclear power reactors? Yes, indeed. Was the weaponsprogram his sole ambition? We don't know, but it is unlikely. I wouldcontend that Iran's massive purchase of conventional armaments in the1960s and 1970s rendered nuclear weapons superfluous to Iran's basicsecurity needs. Would the Shah have liked to develop nuclear weapons,in case the regional situation changed in his disfavor? Probably. Didhe have a crash program to do so? Certainly not. The "legend" ofnuclear power under the Shah made further sense when coupled tocontemporary estimates of Iran's oil and gas reserves, which forecastsignificant depletion within 15-20 years.

The Islamic Revolutionaries who seized power in 1979 initiallyabandoned the Shah's nuclear program, both civilian and (presumed)military. They cancelled massive arms purchases from the UnitedStates, and industrial projects with France, Germany, and Japan.Ayatollah Khomeini publicly disdained Western science and technology,arguing that Iran should turn to "traditonal" Islamic values.

The bombing of Iraq's French-built Osirak reactor by Israeli F-16sin June 1981 must have come as a shock to the new government inTehran. Locked in a war with Iraq, unable to obtain spare parts forits U.S.-built warplanes or its British-built tanks, Iran had apressing need for conventional military supplies. It invested massiveresources to procure spare parts and ammunition from alteratesuppliers, and paid the exhorbitant mark-ups of the black and greyarms market. However, there is no evidence I am aware of suggestingat this time that the mullahs saw in the former Shah's nuclearprogram a military option that could have won the war with Iraq.Among other factors impeding a renewed nuclear effort at this timewas the flight into exile of most of Iran's Western-trained nuclearscientists.

The first rumors that the Islamic Republic had begun to considerreinvigorating the nuclear program surfaced in 1984, when Iranapproached Argentina to acquire highly-enriched uranium for its 5MWresearch reactor in Tehran and as a potential supplier for theBusheir nuclear power plant. (There were also rumors that year that"low level" nuclear cooperation had begun with North Korea). InApril 1984, West German intelligence sources leaked reports to thepress that Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program was so faradvanced that it would be capable of producing a bomb "within twoyears." Although these reports turned out to be greatly exaggerated,it was the first time a Western intelligence agency had airedsuspicions that Iran had revived its nuclear weapons program.Meanwhile, a group of forty West German nuclear engineers visited theGulf port of Busheir to investigate the possibility of completing atleast one of the two unfinished reactors, at the personal insistenceof the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani , whofrom the start has been the key figure pushing Iran's nuclear optionTo demonstrate its intentions to pursue nuclear technology, Iranopened the nuclear research institute at the University of Isfahanthat same year. This site is today believed to have become one of thefocal points of the clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iraq tookthe possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapons program disguisedbehind a nuclear power program so seriously that on Feb. 15, 1985 itlaunched a bombing raid against the Busheir power plant, killing aGerman maintenance worker employed by KWU. Over the next two years,many additional raids on Busheir were to follow.

On November 6, 1985, the foreign edition of Tehran's Keyhannewspaper, published in London, ran a government ad inviting Iran'snuclear scientists to return home, all expenses paid, to attend anuclear science and technology conference scheduled for March 14-19,1986 at Busheir. A similar conference was held the following year,that was addressed by Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

In February 1986, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Dr. AbdelQader Khan, secretly visited Busheir, adding fuel to suspicions ofnuclear cooperation between Iran and Pakistan. He returned again tothe site in January 1987 as a consultant to the Atomic EnergyOrganization of Iran, to perform a study on the feasibility of usingthe Busheir reactors for plutonium production. Later in 1987,Pakistan signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran thatinvolved the training of Iranian nuclear physicists at the Institutefor Nuclear Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, and at the NuclearStudies Institute in Nowlore.

According to an exiled Iranian nuclear physicist I interviewedduring a 1987 investigation into Iran's nuclear weapons program, atop secret meeting was held in Tehran's Amir Kabir nuclear researchcenter in January 1987, at which it was decided to allocate freshfunds toward developing an atomic device. The overall project wassplit up into different sections to handle raw materials, uraniumenrichment, plutonium reprocessing, technology procurement, andweapons design for these alterate and parallel tracks to the bomb.The nuclear effort was presided over by Hashemi-Rafsanjani who, asMajlis speaker, was in a position to allocate discretionary funds forthe project. Other key figures were Revolutionary Guards leaderMohsen Rafic-doust, Reza Amrollahi, the head of Iran's Atomic EnergyOrganization, and Mohsen Nourkhbash, a close advisor to Rafsanjaniwho became Finance Minister in 1989 and subsequently Governor of theCentral Bank. Nourkhbash seems to be in charge of the overseasfinancial networks.

In a February 1987 address to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization,then President Ali Khamene'i stated: "Regarding atomic energy, weneed it now... Our nation has always been threatened from outside.The least we can do to face this danger is to let our enemies knowthat we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here isin defense of your country and your evolution. With this in mind, youshould work hard and at great speed."

It is significant to note that at this point, Iran was notinsisting on the legend of nuclear power to cover its nuclearambitions. I do not believe Khamene'i misspoke when he equatednuclear power with nuclear "defense". In fact, similar statementswere made over the ensuing years by a number of other senior Iranianofficials, which have never been denied by the government of Iran.

For instance, in an address to Pasdaran officers rebroadcast onTehran radio on Oct. 6, 1988, Majlis speaker Hashemi-Rafsanjani saidthat the Iran-Iraq war had convinced Iran's leaders that "We shouldfully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use ofchemical, bacteriological, and radiological weapons."

The decision to go ahead came in 1988

If one might call the 1984-1988 period that of feasabilitystudies, the Iranian leadership only appears to have made a firmdecision to pursue nuclear options once the Iran-Iraq war was over.This was critical because the end of the war freed up scarcefinancial resources, but also because Iran was hoping it would leadto an end of the Western high-technology embargo against it. Equallyimportant, it meant Iraq would no longer be able to bomb its nuclearfacilities with impunity.

From here on out, the chronology of Iran's nuclear program becomesmore dense, and I will only detail a few watershed events. What wewill see, I believe, is that the closer Iran came to achieving itssecret nuclear weapons ambitions, the more intense were its effortsto weave a convincing "legend" of nuclear power to disguise its trueintentions. Because the weapons program was so broad-based, the powerprogram had to be similarly ambitious. This doubling of the program,so the speak, has become an extremely costly proposition, and mayturn out to be its fatal flaw.

Rogues stick together

Iran understood early on that its best sources of technology for aclandestine nuclear program were either countries with complacentexport control authorities - such as Germany - or suppliers beyondthe pale. This is why Iran turned early on to China, with whomRafsanjani concluded a nuclear cooperation protocol as a sidebar to amajor arms deal signed in June 1985.

The first equipment received from China was a subcritical"training reactor" installed later that year - without any pretentionof a nuclear power program. In 1987, the Chinese supplied a smallcalutron used for the experimental separation of uranium isotopes.While this calutron was in itself too small to serve as a viablemeans of enriching uranium for weapons, it could have helped Iranianscientists to master to complex processes involved.

On Jan. 21, 1990, China and Iran signed a second nuclearcooperation agreement that is believed to have called for theconstruction of a 27 MW plutonium production reactor in Isfahan. U.S. satellite photographs documented the early stages of the reactorconstruction in September 1991, and triggered public concern inWashington over Chinese-Iranian nuclear cooperation. While there hasbeen some confusion over whether this was a new 27 MW reactor, or amistaken reference to a 27 KW miniature neutron source known to havebeen installed in Isfahan by China, the persistent intelligencecommunity leaks to the press in late 1991 strongly suggest that weare talking about a new, and very troublesome reactor. It should beemphasized that Iran never declared any of the Chinese-builtfacilities at Isfahan to the IAEA prior to Feb. 1992, when the IAEAmade its first so-called "challenge" inspection of suspect Iraniansites. I will be happy to elaborate further on the IAEA's role insustaining Iran's nuclear "legend" during our discussion period.Suffice it to say, the IAEA has never found a smoking nuclear gun inIran, and I seriously doubt it ever will. It has, however, maintaineda robust program of nuclear cooperation with Iran, and has funded thetransfer of laboratory uranium enrichment technology to Iran, just asit did to Iraq. (These IAEA-funded projects formed the basis ofIraq's calutron program, which we now know was Iraq's chosen methodof building a nuclear arsenal).

Since 1988, Iran has publicly inaugurated more than fifteen newnuclear facilities. Here are just a few of them:

• 10 uranium mines in Yazd, Khorassan, Sistan va Baluchestan,and Hormozgan Provinces, and in Bandar e Abbas and Badar-e Lengehalong the Gulf. The Director of the Iranian Atomic EnergyOrganization, Reza Amrollahi, announced in 1989 that initialprospection had resulted in expected reserves in excess of 5,000tons.

• the Karaj nuclear center, pegged as an agricultural andmedical research center, inaugurated in 1991 by Vice President HassanHabibi. . This center contains a small cyclotron purchased from IonBeam Applications in Belgium in 1991 that was installed in 1993, andan additional Chinese-supplied calutron. These purchases have ledFrench intelligence analysts to suspect the beginnings of uraniumenrichment research at this facility..

• The Ibn Haytham Laboratory, inaugurated in 1992. Thisapparently belongs to a larger Laser Research Center, which producesRed helium neon lasers. Located in Tehran, this laboratory mayinclude laser enrichment technology initially purchased from the the late 1970s.

• The Bonab Atomic Energy Research Center, inaugurated inJuly 1995,. This facility was officially dedicated to "agriculturalresearch" and "nuclear medecine." One Iranian press report refers toit as a "cyclotron center," which would imply an enrichmentcapability.

These facilities anda host of others, some confirmed, some not,show a dramatic increase of activity in recent years. Probably themost important of the known facilities is the Isfahan nuclear center,which is believed to have extensive underground components that havenever been visited by the IAEA.

The Uranium cycle

Of paramount concern from a nonproliferation standpoint ismounting evidence that Iran has mastered the entire uranium cycle.Iran's delegate to the IAEA has repeatedly declared Iran's intentionto pursue the uranium cycle, although few at the Agency have evertaken him seriously.

Iran began mining uranium, with help from Argentina, starting in1989. Just prior to this, Iran had been secretly receiving "largequantities" of uranium concentrate from South Africa, according toNucleonics Week. . In October, 1989, Iran announced plans to build auranium milling plant near the Saghand uranium mine in Yazd province. Amrollahi subsequently told listeners to Tehran radio that the IAEOplanned to open three "high bleaching projects." or milling plants.

In 1989, the Argentine National Institute for Applied Research,INVAP, signed an $18 million contract with Iran, to build a series ofunsafeguarded facilities for processing uranium ore. According toU.S. officials familiar with the deal, INVAP intended to build amilling plant and a separate facility for fabricating nuclear fuelthat could be used in a 27 MW research reactor purchased from Chinathat same year. Spent fuel from the Chinese reactor could bereprocessed to obtain plutonium.

The Argentine government announced in Jan. 1992 that under U.S.pressure it was withdrawing from the agreement, although no mentionwas made of how much equipment had actually been shipped to build theplants. An Argentinean newspaper reported in 1994 that the BuenosAires government intervened on Dec. 13 1991 to prevent a shipment ofequipment bound for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization that was onboard the Fathulkhair, an Iranian cargo vessel docking at anArgentine port. The equipment had been manufactured at Invap's plantin Bariloche, in Rio Negro Province, the paper said.

It is unclear whether all shipments of nuclear equipment to Iranfrom Argentina stopped in 1992.

The hex plant

Mining uranium and processing it into yellowcake are only thefirst steps toward a clandestine bomb. After that, the yellowcakemust be transformed into uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) and enrichedto 93% purity, using gas ultracentrifuges.

U.S. officials now believe that China built Iran's "hex" plant aspart of a secret nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 1991. Chinamay also have picked up where the Argentineans left off in buildingthe uranium milling plans. U.S. officials believe these agreementswere discussed during an unusual two-day tour by Chinese Premier LiPeng of Iran's nuclear facilities on July 6-7, 1991.

By piecing together the details of a strange kidnap story,involving Chinese, Australian, and North Korean nuclear technicians,U.S. officials believe that the hex plant is known as the RudanNuclear Research Center and is located near the town of Fasa in theregion of Shiraz.

Reports in the Russian press mentioned a shipment of uraniumhexafluoride gas directly from China to Iran late last year. It isunclear whether the cargo actually contained UF6, or whether itcontained equipment or chemicals needed for the Rudan hex plant,officials said.

These reports, coupled to a series of attempts to buyfluorification equipment from Britain and successful purchases ofhydrogen fluoride (a fluorification agent) from Germany , are strongcircumstantial evidence suggesting that Iran now has a uraniumhexafluoride plant, and is actively making feedstock for a centrifugeenrichment program.

If this is the case, then Iran could be much closer to the bombthan previously thought - as little as two to three years away.

Smuggling rings

With abundant local supplies of uranium, unsafeguarded millingplants, and a secret plant to make UF6, Iran is still one importantstep short of obtaining weapons-grade fuel. It needs to enrich theuranium hexafluoride gas.

This is done by spinning the gas in high-speed centrifuges, whichseparate the uranium into its two naturally-occuring isotopes, muchas cream is separated from milk at a dairy. The heavier isotope,U-238, clings to the walls of the centrifuge, while the fissileisotope, U-235, is siphoned off. This process is repeated tens oftime until the concentration of U-235 reaches 93%, enough to sustaina chain reaction.

Export control officials in France and Germany said in interviewsthat they have broken up several attempts by Iranian intelligenceagents over the past two to three years to purchase centrifugeenrichment equipment in Europe on the black market.

But some shipments are believed to have been smuggled to Iranthrough Hartenholm, Germany, a small private airport near Hamburgpurchased by Iranian agents, which operated beyond German governmentcontrol.

In November 1993, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported thatMehdi Kashani, a former Iranian Foreign Trade Minister, part-owner ofthe airport, had been arrested in Spain in 1992 for illegal armspurchases on behalf of the Iranian government. He was also beingsought for attempts to purchase advanced electronics equipment in theUnited States.

Kashani is only one of a number of Iranians who operated suchsmuggling rings in Europe, the Far East, and the U.S.

Russian centrifuge plant

More recent news reports indicate the Iranians may have been ableto purchase the centrifuge technology from Russia.

In an article that appeared in the Russian daily Izvestia on April12, President Yeltsin's advisor for Ecological Affairs, AlexeiYablokov, revealed that part of the $800 million nuclear deal signedbetween Russia and Iran in January 1995 included a Russian offer tosupply of a complete centrifuge enrichment plant.

This was confirmed when the complete text of the accord waspublished in May of this year by the Natural Resources DefenceCouncil in Washington and by The Iran Brief.

Article 6 of the Jan. 8, 1995 protocol reads as follows:

"The Sides will commission their competent organizations toprepare and sign:

- in the course of three months, a contract for delivery of alight water reactor for research with a power of 30-50 MWt fromRussia;

- in the course of the first quarter of 1995, a contract for thedelivery of 2000 tonnes of natural uranium from Russia;

- in the course of the first quarter of 1995, a contract for thepreparation/training for Organization of Atomic Energy of Iranscientific personnel, 10-20 (grad students and PhDs) annually, atRussian academic institutions;

- within a six month period of time, a contract for theconstruction of a uranium vault in Iran, after which negotiationswill be conducted on the signing of a contract for the constructionof a centrifuge plant for enrichment of uranium according toconditions, which are comparable with conditions of contractsconcluded by Russian organizations with firms of third countries."

After intense U.S. criticism during the Moscow summit on May 10,1995, President Yeltsin appeared to acknowledge that the agreementwith Iran contained nuclear military technology and material. "Thecontract was concluded legitimately and in accordance withinternational law and no international treaties were violated in theprocess," Yeltsin said. "But it is true that the contract doescontain components of civilian and military nuclear energy.[...] Now we have agreed to separate those two. In as much asthey relate to the military component and the potential for creatingweapons grade fuel and other matters - the centrifuge, theconstruction of shafts - we have decided to exclude those aspectsfrom the contract. So the military component falls away and whatremains is just a civilian nuclear power station with light waterreactors, which are designed to provide heat and power."

That is about the clearest statement I know that defines Iran'snuclear intentions. It also goes a long way to explaining why theU.S. government has such deep problems with the Russian-Iraniannuclear deal. As a legend, it is becoming less and less convincing -especially given the tardiness with which the Iranian regime turnedto nuclear power as an explanation for its burgeoning nuclearactivity.

Can Iran pay the price?

In an interview with the New York Times recently, IAEO ChairmaReza Amrollahi claimed than Iran now intended to build 10 nuclearpower plants - an ambition reminiscent of the Shah's nuclear powerprogram. Obviously, he pointed to the Busheir reactors, andreference is now being made to two other reactor sites, in Gorgan andin Ahwaz.

The price tag for the reactors at these three sites could reachwell over $12 billion, and it is unclear where Iran intends to getthe money to pay for them. But what is clear is that Iran is usingthe legend of nuclear power to disguise an ongoing, well-developedprogram to enrich natural uranium and perhaps to obtain plutoniumfrom spent power reactor fuel.

If one follows this reasoning, it becomes clear why Chinaannounced to the U.S. at the opening of the United Nations GeneralAssembly on Sept. 27, 1995, that it intended to cancel the Ahwazreactor deals with Iran. China never believed that Iran could pay forthe plants. It also feared it might fail to meet its obligations todeliver the reactors to Iran, since they required German andFrench-supplied control equipment which those countries have pledgednot to deliver to Iran.

If Iran's primary concern is power generation, then it would bebetter served by building natural gas or hydroelectric plants, as tworecent studies argue. And if it still insists on building nuclearpower plants, there is no need to go to the expense of buildingcontroversial facilities for milling, processing, and enrichingnatural uranium to weapons grade. Nor is there a need to sendhundreds of scientists and technicians to Russia, China, and Pakistanfor training in nuclear physics, or for the nuclear procurement teamsthat have been scouring many of the republics of the former SovietUnion, including Belorus and, most recently, Ukraine.

In its reporting on the Sept. 14, 1995 summit in Kiev betweenIsraeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin and Ukrainian President LeonidKucha, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot quotes Kuchma as reassuringRabin that Ukraine does not cooperate with Iran in any area thatmight harm Israel. "We need oil from Iran because Russia isstrangling us," Kucha reportedly told Rabin. "We have no intention ofresponding to the repeated requests by the Iranians to share withthem know-how on nuclear weapons, or to sell them any equipiment inthis field."

Finally, what is perhaps most revealing is Iran's recentinsistence and amplification of the legend of nuclear power. WhenIran began calling its nuclear exiles home in late 1985, certainly itevoked the reconstruction of the Busheir power plant. But there wereno plans on the table at that time to build a complete uranium fuelcycle, nor to build 10 or even 20 power plants. The plan wasbasically to recoup a $5 billion investment that was going to waste,by investing another $600 to $800 million.

If Iran's goal had been to rebuild the Busheir plant, it couldhave signed an agreement with Russia years ago and have virtuallycompleted the work by now. But this was never Iran's primaryinterest. I would argue that the facts I have laid out in the abovepresentation make a powerful case that nuclear power is the myth intoday's Iran, while nuclear weapons are the core reality.