Timeline: Iran's reach for nuclear power
Mileposts in Iran's quest to harness nuclear power.
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1974: The shah, encouraged by the US to diversify Iran's energy resources, launches a program to build 23 nuclear reactors.
1979: The Islamic revolution overthrows the shah. Nuclear cooperation with the West ends. Tehran decides it doesn't need nuclear energy. Around this time, the US says it has intelligence that the shah had set up a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons.
1984-1988: During the Iran-Iraq War, Baghdad bombs Iran's two nuclear reactors at Bushehr. Iran resumes its interest in a national nuclear program. In 1985, the Islamic Republic, together with Libya and Syria, says they should all develop nuclear weapons to counter the Israeli nuclear threat.
1995: Russia signs a deal with Iran to build a lightweight water reactor at Bushehr, under international safeguards.
2002: Iranian exiles report the existence of a facility to enrich uranium – required for nuclear weapons – at Natanz and a heavy-water plant at Arak. Three months later, bolstered by satellite photos, the US accuses Iran of pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
2003: Iran agrees to suspend producing enriched uranium and allow tougher UN inspections. In a report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accuses Iran of failure to comply with international safeguards, but finds "no evidence" of an attempt to build a bomb. Bush officials call the verdict "impossible" to believe.