The Nuclearization of Iran in the Seventies

Jacob Darwin Hamblin, “The Nuclearization of Iran in the Seventies,” Diplomatic History 38:5 (2014), 1114-1135.  Click here.


Scholars remain divided about how Western governments handled the issue of proliferation during Iran’s turn toward nuclear technology in the seventies. The present essay provides an interpretation that takes into account economic strategy during the global petroleum crisis. Rather than focus on the dangers of proliferation, European and American scientists and diplomats encouraged Iran to build a nuclear-intensive future, laying the foundation of Iran’s controversial nuclear community. Western nations used the promises of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to persuade Iran to commit itself to long-term capital expenditures in the nuclear realm, as a coordinated strategy for breaking the power of the petroleum cartel. However, the politics of nonproliferation by the mid-seventies frustrated Western governments’ plans to use the NPT in this way. Parties on both sides gradually learned that Iran’s goal of creating a knowledgeable nuclear community in Iran had become incompatible with the changing Western interpretation of the NPT.

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