Frontline World

Iran - Going Nuclear, May 2005


Related Features THE STORY
Synopsis of "Going Nuclear"

INTERACTIVE FEATURE
How to Become a Nuclear Superpower

INTERVIEW WITH PAUL KENYON
Searching for Secrets

BACKGROUND TO A CRISIS
Iran's Concealment and the World's Response

FACTS & STATS
People, Economy, Government, Nuclear Iran

LINKS & RESOURCES
Iran's Nuclear Program, Nuclear Proliferation, Media Resources, Blogs and Commentary

MAP OF THE REGION

WATCH
Streaming video

REACT TO THIS STORY
Should any country be allowed to build nuclear plants?

   

How to Become a Nuclear Superpower

By Kelly Whalen
SIGN THE NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION TREATY - learn more PRODUCE THE FISSILE MATERIAL - learn more
CREATE A DIVERSION PATH - learn more SECURE THE ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY - learn more
ALIGN WITH A NUCLEAR POWER - learn more TAP THE BLACK MARKET - learn more

Introduction
Three decades ago, five countries -- the United States, Russia (then the Soviet Union), China, Britain and France -- were the only declared nuclear-armed states on the globe. When they pledged to disarm and most of the rest of the world community promised in return to pursue only peaceful nuclear energy programs, few could envision the nuclear renaissance that is underway today. Long-time possessors of nuclear weapons are strengthening their arsenals and delivery systems, while the list of new proliferators of nuclear material and weaponry is growing.

The path to actually developing a nuclear bomb is long and complicated, involving many political and technological steps. Yet the very act of signing on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- which theoretically should improve safety for all through oversight and rules -- enables states to begin a process of assisted nuclear power development, which can lead to weapons development. The international nuclear regulatory system is limited in its abilities to monitor states' nuclear activities and has no mechanisms to enforce compliance from would-be bomb builders. Furthermore, there's a growing international black market that can provide buyers with everything from fissile material to actual blueprints for nuclear bombs.

Select any of the steps that countries have taken toward joining the world's nuclear-armed club.

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