The Shah's Nuclear Bomb as a Western Asset: How America Supported Iran's WMD Program
Since the mid 1980s the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability has been a significant concern in the Western world, and one which has only grown with time as the country's economy and defence sector have modernised and as it acquired a growing number of potentially nuclear capable North Korean missile designs.
The drafting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in 2015, which removed UN sanctions on Iran but allowed unilateral Western sanctions to remain while imposing restrictions on the country's nuclear activities, forestalled Iran’s emergence as a nuclear weapons state. With the Obama administration having announced America’s ‘Pivot to Asia,’ under which the U.S. would concentrate its efforts and refocus its military towards the Asia-Pacific and away from the Middle East involving the U.S. military in a major and likely protracted war in the Persian Gulf to stop the Iranian nuclear program appeared highly undesirable.
According to a number of Western analysts Iranian development of a nuclear weapon would allow Tehran to establish itself as a dominant military power in the Middle East as well as undermine the Israeli nuclear advantage, is an often covered subject.
Nuclear assistance to Iran was carried out under the Atoms for Peace initiative, under which the United States provided a number of valuable strategic partners with facilities to produce nuclear energy which helped to win over these nations in light of the growing competition for influence with the Soviet Union.