Rising Tension Over Iran

February 7, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 3
Is Iran trying to develop nuclear weapons?
By Roland Flamini

Introduction

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Getty Images/Office of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran/April 2008)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (center) inspects some of the 9,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium at the Natanz nuclear facility, 200 miles south of Tehran. Although Iran insists its enrichment program is for civilian use, Western governments fear Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. (Getty Images/Office of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran/April 2008)

Successive U.S. presidents have insisted that a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable.” Iran's Islamic leadership insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but even as U.N. inspectors headed to Tehran in late January, the body of evidence from earlier inspections raised nagging questions that the Iranians have failed to answer, such as why facilities for a peaceful program would be buried hundreds of feet underground. A nuclear Iran would alter the strategic balance in the tense Middle East and, some say, possibly trigger a regional atomic arms race. Although the United States and Europe have imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, the Iranians have not stopped enriching uranium or begun operating their nuclear program with more transparency. But with Israel reportedly considering a pre-emptive strike on nuclear facilities in Iran — which has vowed to destroy Israel — the question of the sanctions' effectiveness may be moot.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Iran
Mar. 04, 2016  U.S.-Iran Relations
Feb. 07, 2012  Rising Tension Over Iran
Nov. 16, 2007  U.S. Policy on Iran
Dec. 18, 1998  Reform in Iran
Aug. 29, 1986  Iran's Revolt Within
Jan. 26, 1979  Iran Between East and West
Apr. 26, 1974  Resurgent Iran
Apr. 04, 1962  Iran: Reform or Revolt
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Middle East Conflicts