As talking heads in the news media still debate the actual terms of the Iran nuclear agreement that President Obama pushed through in July 2015 – we wanted to advise some of you and remind the rest where this Iranian nuclear program came from in the first place.
We not going to take time to debate the pros and cons of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, nor question the 2012 U.S. intelligence reports stating Iran had no nuclear capabilities or the opposing 2012 Israeli reports that Iran was “6-7 months” away from a bomb. We won’t even look into the reasons why the U.S just implemented a European shield in May 2016 against the very Iranian missiles we were told this agreement protected us from in the first place.
We just wanted you to know that the Iranian nuclear program, as Bruce Springsteen so powerfully rocked it, was born in the U.S.A.
America’s anguish with the Iranian nuclear program is hard to understand, when the facts clearly show that Washington exported nuclear technology to Tehran in the first place.
Russia may have become Iran’s best nuclear supplier since the 1979 Revolution, but, in the earliest days of Tehran’s flirtation with the atom, it was the Eisenhower Administration that provided encouragement, equipment, funds and uranium to kick-start an Iranian nuclear program.
An instructive timeline of America’s shifting views towards the Iranian Atom (compiled by the Iranian Website Alakhbar) details this curious history.
Beginning as far back as the 1950s, the US was busy promoting nuclear power around the world and one of the nuclear industry’s first clients was Iran – then under the control of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a pro-Western despot who held power through the brutal excesses of his secret police, the Savak.
In December 1953, President Eisenhower, trying to shed the image of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the world’s consciousness, stood before the United Nations and pledged to find a way to use the incredible discovery of nuclear power for peaceful means, in his famed speech “Atoms for Peace”.
In 1957, under his “Atoms for Peace” program, the US inked a civilian nuclear development deal with Iran. Three years later, the US sold a small research reactor to Iran. After the reactor went online in 1967, Iran signed and ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In 1970, the US (joined by France and Germany) began negotiations for the construction of as many as 20 nuclear reactors inside Iran. The “nuclear superpowers” also reportedly discussed establishing an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Little proof today exists of this supposed plan by Washington for an Iranian bomb program but it certainly heard a lot about Iran’s civilian nuclear power program. The Shah had an incredibly progressive plan to build up to 23 nuclear reactors by 2000.
And it was as a result of this aggressive program of building nuclear power plants in Iran that we found Iran’s despotic and tyrannical Shah starring in a string of eye-grabbing nuclear power ads in the USA, as seen above.
The Shah Loves Nukes So Why Don’t You?
The advertising campaign was backed by large energy companies like Westinghouse and General Electric and the ads carried the names of burgeoning nuclear operators from across several East Coast states.
The ads, which began to appear in the early 1970s, bore the slogan “Nuclear Energy. Today’s Answer.” Small print at the bottom identified the sponsors: Boston Edison, Eastern Utilities Association, New England Power Co., Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, New England Gas and Electric Companies.
The ads featured a striking photo of the Shah, in all his embroidered, beribboned, imperial splendor, epaulets ablaze and medallions aglow. Hovering over his photo was the phrase: “Guess Who’s Building Nuclear Power Plants.” Notice, there was no question mark at the end of the sentence because there was no question about the message.
“The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one of the largest reservoirs of oil in the world,” the ad copy began. “Yet he’s building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country. He knows the oil is running out – and time with it.”
It reads today like an Earth Day message delivered by a well-meaning nuclear industry that wanted nothing more than to save the world from a plague of oil spills, pollution and global warming. But the real message wasn’t about the shortcomings of fossil fuels, it was about the abiding fear of atoms.
The Shah “wouldn’t build the plants now if he doubted their safety,” the ad copy read. “He’d wait. As many Americans want to do.” But the message was clear – the Shah was wiser than the average American. “The Shah knows that nuclear energy is not only economical, it has enjoyed a remarkable 30-year safety record.”
Two major problems with the ad – yes, the Shah WAS “building” reactors, but they were never “built” as long as he lived. And they were never built by American companies – German contractors got that honor. When the Iranian Revolution began in 1979, the first reactor was 85% complete, the second 50%, and the Ayatollah’s proclamation that the project was “un-Islamic” stopped construction. The project wasn’t completed by new contractors from Russia until 2009!
The 30-year “safety record” of nuclear energy also included little historical footnotes like:
- The first atomic tests at Alamogordo,
- The two bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nakasaki, killing up to 246,000 people, and
- Years of above-ground nuclear bomb tests that spread fallout around the world.
Leaving aside those footnotes, the advertising copy pressed on to argue that atomic power’s safety record was “good enough for the citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, too. They’ve approved their second nuclear plant by a vote of almost 4 to 1. Which shows you don’t have to go as far as Iran for an endorsement of nuclear power.”
But the Shah wasn’t in the nuclear game just to keep the lights on in Tehran someday, somewhere over the rainbow. There was more to it. The Shah tipped his hand in 1974 when he boasted to a French reporter that he expected to be “in possession of a nuclear bomb much sooner than is believe” (sic).
President Gerald Ford publicly supported the Shah’s nuclear ambitions, as did his White House henchmen Dick Cheney, Ronald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger who served as the Shah’s nuclear lobby in Washington.
By 1978, relations between Washington and Tehran were so cozy that the US bestowed its “most favored nation” status on the country, which allowed Iran to undertake the reprocessing of nuclear fuel (a sure pathway to acquiring “weapons-grade” uranium).
The Shah’s nuclear ambitions were never realized, however. In 1979, a popular revolution toppled the Shah and the hated Savak. The country’s new leaders terminated the nuclear pacts with the West and ordered the nuclear program shut down for religious reasons.
So clearly, while some say that they cannot take credit or blame for where Iran’s nuclear program is today (which is debatable after the signing of this Iran nuclear agreement), America started Iran’s nuclear ball rolling. We pray to God that it never actually becomes full realized.