Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

L'Economie Politique de Développement de l'Energie Nucléaire en Iran (1957-2004)

Abstract : “Atoms for Peace” was introduced in Iran under US initiative in 1957. The developing Iran of the era had of course no need of atomic technology. But paradoxically the technology will provide it some 45 years later the means of dissuasion against the United States itself; what we have labeled as “virtual dissuasion” in this study.
Iran's participation in the “Atoms for Peace” program, like that of most other countries allowed the US to overcome its weakness for the control of this sector through creation of an international regime. The US will use the Indian explosion of 1974 as pretext to stop international cooperation in this field completely. With the entry of Europe and the Soviet Union in the commercial enrichment sector, the last means of control of the sector had escaped US power. The international nuclear sector presented no further interest to the US: its market share in the field of fabrication of reactors had diminished considerably with the entry of France and Germany in the market. With the entry of Urenco and Eurodif in the enrichment market, the international sector not only presented no more interest to the US, it also imposed a considerable detriment: that of increasing the cost of US military intervention abroad.
The departure of British forces from the Golf had provided the Shah with the opportunity of assuming the role of regional superpower. But the Shah wanted sovereignty over his oil resources as payoff. Although the US had acquiesced this, the correction of falling petroleum prices through OPEC collective action was no longer acceptable. Added to this was the Shah's unwillingness to procure military and industrial equipment—including nuclear reactors—only from the US.
The launch of the Iranian nuclear industry in 1974 takes place in this climate of tension between the US and Iran. The realization of this industry will be hindered by two types of US initiatives. On one hand the US will undertake actions to control nuclear suppliers, which will hinder the ability of Iran to build a complete nuclear cycle—Iran will however invest in Eurodif to ensure access to fuel. On the other hand the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate, decrease of international energy consumption and promotion of alternative sources of petroleum supply will put Iran's revenues and investment capacity under strain. The result will be popular dissatisfaction, which will be aggravated by the US targeting of Iran for its Human Rights shortcomings—ending in uprising and revolution.
Our thesis holds that the revelation of Iranian enrichment capacity in 2002 serves two essential functions: first a “virtual dissuasion” against invasion of American forces that besiege Iran on all frontiers. Second, having demonstrated—and abandoned—military capability, Iran seeks to be finally able to operate its civilian nuclear industry. For the past 30 years this has been impossible as the US accused Iran of wanting to use this industry for military purposes.
Faced with this, the US has 3 choices: veto of Iranian nuclear industry, accepting of civilian reactor operations without the fuel cycle, and accepting of complete Iranian sovereignty over its nuclear cycle. The veto option will require the utilization by the US of military or sabotage operations, pressure on Russia or internal unrest. We argue that neither is feasible or desirable for the US. The option of allowing civilian reactor operation can link provision of fuel to measures of democratization. This is the option that this study identifies as optimal for both sides. The EU and the IAEA can play a constructive role in this scenario. We conclude that increased democratization in Iran will also allow future cooperation between Iran, the US and Golf states, allowing Iran to assume the role of regional security.
Document type :
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Nader Barzin <>
Submitted on : Friday, January 6, 2006 - 1:51:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 4:48:21 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 4:26:17 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00011311, version 1


Nader Barzin. L'Economie Politique de Développement de l'Energie Nucléaire en Iran (1957-2004). Science politique. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), 2004. Français. ⟨tel-00011311⟩



Record views


Files downloads