August 2002: National
Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian opposition group,
reveals two secret nuclear sites under construction in Iran, one at Natanz and one at Arak.
September 2002: The
head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization announces Iran's "long-term
plan to construct nuclear power plants...within two decades," and the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asks about the sites at Natanz
December 2002: Satellite
photographs of Natanz and Arak are publicized
in the media, suggesting that Natanz is probably a centrifuge uranium enrichment
site and Arak is a heavy water production
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
says that revelations regarding Natanz and Arak reinforce U.S. fears
about Irans "across-the-board
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities."
January 2003: Two
senior U.S. officials – Zalmay
Khalilzad from the White House and Ryan C. Crocker from the State Department – reportedly
meet secretly with Iranian officials to discuss potential cooperation.
February 2003: IAEA
visits Natanz, which includes a pilot fuel enrichment plant intended to house
1,000 centrifuges and a large-scale commercial enrichment facility intended
to house 50,000 centrifuges. Iran confirms
that a heavy water production plant is under construction at Arak. Iran also acknowledges secretly importing
uranium compounds in 1991.
May 2003: According
to a report in the Financial Times,
Iran uses the "Swiss channel" to make a proposal reportedly covering
progress on its nuclear program, its support for terrorism, its influence in
Iraq, and its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in exchange for lifting
sanctions, dropping "regime change" from the U.S. policy lexicon,
and the eventual re-establishment of diplomatic relations. U.S. issues
Iran informs the IAEA of plans to construct a
40 MW (t) heavy water reactor at Arak and a
fuel manufacturing plant at Isfahan.
U.S. reportedly boycotts a scheduled meeting with Iran because Iran is suspected of harboring organizers of a
recent terrorist bombing in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia. The meeting would have been the
latest in a series of informal bilateral talks on cooperation on terrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan.
NCRI claims that the Iranian government
has developed two additional uranium enrichment facilities, at Lashkar-Abad
and Ramandeh village, which it intends to use as enrichment sub-stations or
back-up stations in the event of a military attack on its main facility at
June 2003: IAEA
board discusses Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei's report that "Iran has
failed to meet its obligations" concerning "the reporting of nuclear
material, the subsequent processing and use of that material and the declaration
of facilities where the material was stored and processed.”
Iran introduces uranium hexafluoride
(UF6) into the first centrifuge at Natanz.
President George W. Bush announces
that "the international community must come together to make it very
clear to Iran that we will not
tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon in Iran."
July 2003: The
medium-range Shahab-3 missile is distributed to Iran's Revolutionary Guard several
weeks after what an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman calls the "final
test" of the Shahab-3.
August 2003: Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and an Israeli general brief President Bush on Iran's nuclear program, arguing that U.S. intelligence
services are underestimating how quickly Iran could develop
a nuclear weapon.
IAEA takes environmental samples
at the Kalaye Electric Company, a centrifuge workshop, and visits the two nuclear
sites at Lashkar-Abad and Ramandeh village.
Iran begins testing a small ten-machine
cascade at Natanz and admits to the IAEA that it conducted "bench scale" uranium
conversion experiments in 1990s.
September 2003: IAEA
board discusses ElBaradei's latest report on Iran. The
report describes contradictions and misstatements made by Iran and says that two types of enriched
uranium particles were found at Natanz, that the centrifuges at Natanz resemble
an early European design, and that the centrifuges were tested using UF6.
U.S. tries to push through a resolution at the
IAEA that would find Iran in
non-compliance with its international obligations and send it to the U.N. Security
Council, but backs down due to lack of support and agrees to give Iran "a
last chance to stop its evasions."
IAEA board calls on Iran to provide
full transparency on its nuclear program, to suspend its uranium enrichment
related activities, and to resolve all outstanding questions by the end of
Russian President Vladimir Putin
and President Bush discuss Iran's
nuclear program during meetings at Camp David. Bush
describes the meeting as "very satisfactory," and Putin endorses
the IAEA's ongoing investigation.
October 2003: Iran agrees with foreign ministers from Germany, France and Britain that Iran will sign
IAEA's Additional Protocol and suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing
activities in exchange for access to technology.
Single machine tests using UF6 are
carried out at Natanz, and the installation of a 164-machine cascade is finalized.
IAEA inspectors visit Natanz on
October 31 and confirm that no UF6 is being fed into centrifuges (as required
under the terms of Iran's
deal with Germany, France and Britain). However, construction
and installation work continues.
November 2003: A
C.I.A. report accuses Iran of "vigorously" pursuing nuclear,
chemical and biological weapon programs and seeking help from Russia, China, North
Korea and Europe. The report also says that the U.S. remains
convinced that Tehran is
pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapon program.
Iran shuts down all centrifuges at
Natanz but continues to assemble centrifuges.
board discusses ElBaradei's report that high and low enriched uranium particles
were found at Kalaye, that Iran secretly produced uranium enriched to 1.2%
U-235 at Kalaye between 1999 and 2002, that Iran ran
a secret laser enrichment program, and that Iran conducted secret plutonium production
experiments. However, the report concludes that there is still no evidence
that Iran has a bomb
program despite its policy of concealment.
pushes for the IAEA to declare Iran in
violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to report Iran to the U.N.
IAEA calls on Iran to correct its failures, but does not refer Iran's
nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council.
December 2003: Iran signs
the Additional Protocol to its IAEA Safeguards agreement and agrees to act
within the Protocol's provisions pending its official entry into force through
ratification by Iran's parliament.
February 2004: Iran expands
its suspension of uranium enrichment activities to include manufacturing,
testing and assembling centrifuges. However, some centrifuge manufacturing
will continue under existing contracts.
March 2004: IAEA
board discusses ElBaradei's report on traces of uranium enriched to 36% U-235
found at Kalaye, Iran's work on the radioactive isotope Polonium 210, which
can be used to set off a nuclear explosion, and Iran's previously unknown
work on a second generation Pakistani centrifuge called the P-2.
IAEA passes a third resolution,
which criticizes Iran's
lack of transparency and honesty.