Iran, the United States and a Nuclear Seesaw
By JEFFERY DelVISCIO, DIANTHA PARKER, DAVID FURST, JEFF ROTH, JON HUANG and ARTIN AFKHAMIFar from a monolithic relationship, Iran and the United States have spent as many decades as friends as they have as enemies. And for most of the history, whatever the polarity, nuclear issues have played a role.
Arthur C. MillspaughHarris & Ewing
U.S. Sends Adviser to Fix Persian FinancesArthur C. Millspaugh, an economic adviser to the United States government, is sent as a private citizen to Persia — as Iran was then known — to bring change to a country hampered by administrative inefficiency. The Persians viewed the adviser’s involvement as a way to bring in foreign investment and to counterbalance the influence of the European powers. The mission continued until 1928, when Mr. Millspaugh lost favor with the shah.
Before the Coup Attempt W. Averell Harriman, left, President Harry S. Truman’s personal foreign policy adviser, conferring with Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran in 1951. An interpreter sits between them.Associated Press
Prime Minister Ousted in CoupThe Central Intelligence Agency backs a plan, coordinated with British intelligence, to overthrow the Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. The plan has the approval of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and is conceived because of British concerns over petroleum exports and the relationship of the prime minister with the Soviets. The coup, orchestrated by an American agent, leads to the ouster of Mr. Mossadegh, and the shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, becomes an authoritarian monarch.
U.S. and Iran Sign Nuclear AgreementIran signs the Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy as part of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. The accord allows the United States to lease several kilograms of enriched uranium to Iran and calls for cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, center left, and his wife, Empress Farah, center right, with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.Associated Press
On State Visit, Shah Warns of CommunismOn an official state visit to the United States, the shah tells Congress that he will not surrender to communism, but that the United States must continue its foreign aid. “I recognize that it is a burden, and I sympathize with the desire to lay down,” he said. “But the need for it is not yet finished. The threat has not ended.” President John F. Kennedy praises the shah: “Occupying as you do in Iran a most important strategic area, surrounded as you are by vital and powerful people, your country has been able to maintain its national independence century after century, until we come to the present date where, under great challenges you, Your Majesty, lead that historic fight.”
Iran Signs On to Nonproliferation TreatyIran is one of 51 nations to sign the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons on July 1, 1968. Iran’s Parliament ratifies it in February 1970.
Ford Opens U.S. Nuclear Technologies to IranPresident Gerald R. Ford published a directive, explained in a memorandum circulated by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, that would “permit U.S. material to be fabricated into fuel in Iran for use in its own reactors.” The directive also would allow the Iranians to buy and operate an American-built nuclear reprocessing plant for extracting plutonium from reactor fuel. Interviewed by The Washington Post in 2005, Mr. Kissinger said of the deal: “They were an allied country, and this was a commercial transaction. We didn’t address the question of them one day moving toward nuclear weapons.”
Carter Visits IranOn New Year’s Eve, President Jimmy Carter stands beside the shah and toasts him, saying, “Iran, because of the great leadership of the shah, is an island of stability.”
The deposed shah, with Empress Farah and two of their children, dodged questions from photographers in Nassau, the Bahamas. Associated Press
Shah Flees IranThe shah is overthrown in what becomes known as the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Three days later, R.W. Apple Jr., writing for The New York Times, tells of a “river of humanity” flowing down Tehran’s main street to show support for Ayotollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an exiled cleric. President Carter, speaking at a news conference in the days after the revolution, says of the shah: “He’s now in Egypt, and he will later come to our own country. But we would anticipate, and would certainly hope, that our good relationships with Iran will continue in the future.”
Iran Cancels Nuclear Plants Under ConstructionA post-revolution government led by Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar cancels a $6.2 billion contract for the construction of two nuclear power plants. Iran had made a down payment of $240 million on the plants, which were to be built at Darkhoein in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini descends from the Air France plane that brought him to Tehran after 15 years in exile.United Press International
Khomeini Returns to IranAyatollah Khomeini, who became a symbol of the Islamic Revolution, arrives in Tehran and immediately calls for the expulsion of all foreigners. “I beg God to cut off the the hands of all evil foreigners and their helpers,” he says. The State Department evacuates 1,350 Americans on the day of the ayatollah’s return. Khomeini would go on to take control of the country in March, installing a quasi theocracy that remains in power.
Iranian Militants Storm American EmbassyYoung Iranian militants, referred to as students at the time, storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, vowing to occupy the building and hold the employees hostage until the Shah, then a cancer patient in a New York hospital, is returned to Iran to face trial. Their actions have the support of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Family members of hostages held captive in Iran joined President Jimmy Carter at National Cathedral for prayer service three days after he suspended Iranian oil imports.The New York Times
Carter Bans Iranian OilPresident Jimmy Carter orders a suspension of oil imports from Iran, declaring that the United States will not yield to “unacceptable demands” for the return of the deposed shah made by Iranians holding American citizens hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran.
Ayotollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s son, Syed Ahmad, right, at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran with five of the American hostages just before they were allowed to leave the country.United Press International
Iranians Release 10 HostagesSix black men and four women are released from the American Embassy. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini says the 10 were freed because Islam respects women and because he considers American blacks to be oppressed. The ayatollah threatens the remaining hostages with trial in an Islamic court.
Rescue Attempt FailsPresident Carter’s covert mission to rescue the hostages, code-named Desert One, ends in failure and the deaths of eight American commandos. The aborted rescue attempt, the failure of the mission and the hostages’ continuing captivity seriously hurt his prospects for re-election.
Shah Dies in EgyptThe deposed Iranian leader — an embittered international outcast 18 months after being driven from his throne — is suffering from lymphatic cancer when he dies in an Egyptian military hospital. He has a state funeral in Egypt, which sheltered him at the end of his life. His death does little to change the American hostage crisis. “For us, he has been dead for years,” a spokesman for the Iranian president, Abul-hassan Bani-Sadr, says. Ayotollah Khomeini later delivers a message during the time of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Muslims make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, demanding the return of all the shah’s assets to Iran. Khomeini also asked the United States to release frozen Iranian assets and to promise not to intervene in Iran politically or militarily.
Iraqi gunners used a Soviet 130-milllimeter field gun to shell the Iranian cities of Abadan and Khurramshahr.United Press International
Iraq Invades Iran, Beginning 8-Year WarLimited clashes along the 270-mile Iran-Iraq border widen into war. Iraq ends a border pact and claims responsibility for sinking Iranian gunboats and downing an F-4 Phantom jet fighter — which are part of a Iranian attack on Iraqi positions near the port of Basra, Iraq. The fighting centers around Shatt al-Arab, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein seizes. The area is a strategic bottleneck, surrounded by significant oil resources and close to important shipping lanes.
Screen captures, made from an NBC News television monitor in New York, show some of the American hostages sending messages to loved ones from Tehran on the day after Christmas in 1980. Associated Press
Papal Nuncio Visits HostagesThe Vatican’s representative in Tehran, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, celebrates Christmas with the hostages. It is the second Christmas that they have spent in captivity. Monsignor Bugnini says the hostages received cards and gifts from the United States, including warm winter clothing and exercising devices called “chest expanders.”
U.S. and Iran Reach Deal on Hostage ReleaseDeputy Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher signs an agreement where the United States agrees to release frozen Iranian assets and property, settle monetary claims and agree not to interfere, politically or militarily, in Iran in exchange for the delivery of the American hostages. The agreement includes a substantial portion of the demands made by Ayotollah Khomeini in September 1980.
Hostages ReleasedAfter 444 days in captivity, the Americans held hostage in Tehran are released. John Chancellor of NBC News reports in this newscast from the day.
Reagan InauguratedAs Ronald Reagan makes his inaugural address after taking the oath of office in Washington, two Boeing 727 airplanes take off from Tehran with the American hostages. Surprisingly, their release does not come up in President Reagan’s inaugural address, which instead emphasizes the need to limit the powers of the federal government and to lower unemployment and inflation.
Freed Hostages Arrive in U.S.An Air Force VC-137, dubbed Freedom One, carries the former hostages home from Wiesbaden, West Germany, and lands at Stewart International Airport in upstate New York. Thousands of people line the back roads and main streets of the Hudson Valley, cheering and waving flags, hoping for a glimpse of the now freed men and women.
Lieut. Col. Oliver North, left, and his attorney Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. testifying before Congressional Iran-Contra committee.Jose R. Lopez/The New York Times
The Iran-Contra SchemeAt a meeting with Congressional leaders, President Ronald Reagan for the first time personally acknowledges sending military supplies to Iran. He defends the action as necessary to establish ties to moderate elements there. In a speech from the Oval Office the next day, Mr. Reagan defends his ”secret diplomatic initiative to Iran,” saying he wanted to press Tehran to ”use its influence in Lebanon to secure the release of all hostages held there.” He says he authorized the transfer of ”small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts” to Iran. A senior administration official says it was no more than one cargo planeload, or about 260,000 pounds, and comprised purely defensive parts. On Nov. 22, officials in the attorney general’s office uncover information in the office of Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, an aide to the national security adviser, pointing to the diversion of millions of dollars from the Iranian arms sales to the Nicaraguan rebels known as contras. Mr. Reagan and Vice President George Bush say they had no knowledge of the diversion of funds. Mr. Reagan later announces the resignation of Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the national security adviser, who he says knew of the operation, and the dismissal of Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, a National Security Council aide who directed the program. Congress begins an investigation into the scandal in May 1987 and eventually hears more than 250 hours of testimony from 28 public witnesses.
Late 1980s: Iran Gets Nuclear Help From Pakistani ScientistAbdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist and the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, shares his research with Iran and other countries, including China, North Korea and Libya, although that information does not become public until years later. In 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency is on the verge of reviewing Tehran’s nuclear program when Iranian officials admit to a 1987 meeting with Dr. Khan’s representatives. But Tehran tells the International Atomic Energy Agency that it turned down the chance to buy the sensitive equipment required to build the core of a bomb.
Late 1980s: Nuclear Transfers ReportedLate 1980s: Dr. Khan and a network of international suppliers are reported to begin nuclear transfers to Iran. The period of cooperation is thought to continue through 1995, when P-2 centrifuge components are transferred. The Pakistani government claims no transfers occurred after the shipments of P-1 components and subassemblies from 1989 to 1991. 1987: Dr. Khan is believed to make a centrifuge deal with Iran to help build a cascade of 50,000 P-1 centrifuges. 1988: Iranian scientists are suspected of having received nuclear training in Pakistan. 1989: Iran is suspected of receiving its first centrifuge assemblies and components. The components were likely older P-1 centrifuge components that Dr. Khan no longer used in Pakistan. Dr. Khan is reported to have shipped over 2000 components and sub-assemblies for P-1, and later P-2, centrifuges to Iran.
U.S. Intervenes in Iran-Iraq WarIn July 1987, the United States begins protecting Arab shipping in the Persian Gulf, an effort that results in the near total destruction of the Iranian Navy. From 1981 to 1984, the first phase of the so-called Tanker War, Iraq uses low-flying helicopters to attack Iranian ships. In the second phase, beginning in March 1984, Iraqi aircraft begin firing on neutral ships headed to Iranian ports. Iran retaliated in April and May 1984 by attacking oil tankers belonging to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, both of which support Iraq in the war. In 1984, Kuwait asks for international protection, and the Soviet Union agrees to escort Kuwaiti vessels after the United States initially declines. On May 17, Iraq fires on the American missile frigate the Stark, killing 37 Navy personnel. The Stark is on a routine patrol in international waters northeast of Bahrain when the attack occurs. It had been in the region for two months, and was looking for underwater mines.President Reagan announces he will take action to protect oil being shipped in the Persian Gulf against “threats by Iran or anyone else.”
U.S. Forces Attack Iranian Oil Platforms and ShipsIn retaliation for the mining of the Samuel B. Roberts, a Navy ship, in 1984, United States forces destroy two Iranian oil platforms and sink or damage six Iranian naval vessels.
Mourners carried coffins in a mass funeral in Tehran for victims of the Iran Air flight that was shot down by the United States Navy.Associated Press
U.S. Downs Iranian Airliner, Killing 290During a skirmish with a group of Iranian gunboats in the Strait of Hormuz, the Navy cruiser Vincennes accidentally shoots down an Iran Air commercial flight that is on its way to Dubai. All 290 passengers and crew are killed. The New York Times reports that the entire episode took 11 minutes.
Cease-Fire Brings Iran-Iraq War to a CloseAfter almost eight years of a war that claims an estimated one million lives, a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq appears to end the hostilities. The United Nations brokered the ceasefire with U. N. Security Council Resolution 598, which was accepted by both sides. Over the next several weeks, Iranian armed forces evacuate Iraqi territory. The UN had also called for a full exchange of prisoners of war, but the last ones were not exchanged until 2003. The Security Council had called for a ceasefire in 1986, but neither country would comply.
The body of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was displayed to hundreds of thousands of Iranians at his funeral.Agence France-Presse
Ayatollah Khomeini DiesThe ayatollah, who died at age 89, “felt a holy mission to rid Iran of what he saw as Western corruption and degeneracy and to return the country, under an Islamic theocracy, to religious purity,” The Times reports.
Saddam Hussein Invades KuwaitThe Iraqi Army crosses the Kuwaiti border with tank-led troops, seizing the emir’s palace and other government buildings and strategic installations.The invasion follows more than a month of recriminations between the two countries. Before the attack, Kuwaiti officials suggested that Iraq was trying to bully its creditors — including Kuwait — into writing off billions of dollars in debts it incurred during its eight-year war with Iran. Kuwait’s support of Iraq during the conflict was a sore point in its relations with Iran.
A destroyed Iraqi tank burns as an allied vehicle passes by it.Associated Press/DOD Pool Photo by Ken Jarecke
U.S. Begins Its First War With IraqThe United States and its allies open a long-threatened war to drive Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait, striking Baghdad and other targets in Iraq and Kuwait with waves of bombers and cruise missiles.
Washington Declines Iran’s Offer to MediatePresident Hashemi Rafsanjani of Iran offers to serve as a mediator between the United States and Iraq to seek an end to the Persian Gulf war. Iraq has no immediate public reaction, and the overture is received coolly by the administration of the first President George Bush.
Bush Halts the FightingA tank battle between allied armored units and Iraq’s Republican Guard help bring the seven months of war in Kuwait to a close. Hours later, President Bush orders allied forces to suspend offensive military operations against Hussein’s isolated and battered army. In an address from the Oval Office that is televised around the world, the president calls on Hussein to send his commanders to meet with allied officers in the war zone within 48 hours to settle the military terms of a permanent cease-fire.
Iran and Russia Sign Nuclear ContractIran announces that it will sign a contract with Russia to complete a nuclear power plant on the Persian Gulf coast, but it denies a report that it may be less than five years away from producing nuclear weapons. The site is at Bushehr, Iran, which is thought to be the nation’s most active center for nuclear weapons research and production.
Clinton Approves New Sanctions Against Iran and LibyaPresident Bill Clinton signs a bill imposing sanctions on foreign companies with investments in Iran and Libya. Such rules are already in place for American companies. Mr. Clinton calls the measure part of“the common commitment to strengthen our fight against terrorism.” “Terrorism has many faces, to be sure,” he says, “but Iran and Libya are two of the most dangerous supporters of terrorism in the world. The Iran and Libya sanctions bill I sign today will help to deny those countries the money they need to finance international terrorism. It will limit the flow of resources necessary to obtain weapons of mass destruction.”
Iranian President Promises a ‘Dialogue’ With the WorldPresident Mohammed Khatami makes his pledge during an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN. Mr. Khatami also conveys his respect for “American civilization” and expresses his wish to begin “a new century of humanity, understanding and durable peace.” “When I speak of dialogue,” he adds, “I intend dialogue between civilizations and cultures. Such discourse should be centered around thinkers and intellectuals. I believe that all doors should now be opened for such dialogue and understanding and possibilities for contact.”
Iran Is Sued Using a U.S. Antiterrorism LawA Federal District Court judge orders the Iranian government to pay $247.5 million in damages to the family of a 20-year-old New Jersey exchange student who was killed in a terrorist bombing in 1995. The decision is the second under the Antiterrorism Act of 1996, which allows American citizens to sue foreign governments for criminal acts committed outside the United States. The settlement is never paid.
Hostages Prohibited From Suing IranA federal judge rules that despite winning a case in 2001 against Iran, the Americans held there for 444 days beginning in 1979 cannot receive damages from Tehran because the agreement that freed them barred such lawsuits. The surviving hostages would continue to fight for compensation despite the decision.
Discovery of Secret Iranian Nuclear FacilitiesThe People’s Muhajeddin of Iran, a group of leftist Iranian exiles also known as the M.E.K., obtain and share documents revealing a clandestine nuclear program previously unknown to the United Nations. The facilities include a vast uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak. In December, satellite photographs of Natanz and Arak are shown on television in the United States. The United States accuses Tehran of an “across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction” and suggests that Russia helped build the facilities. Iran agrees to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Authority. It also signs an accord with Russia to speed up completion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
Iran Agrees to Halt Uranium Production, TemporarilyAfter 22 hours of negotiations, an Iranian delegation and senior officials from France, Germany, Britain and the European Union come to a preliminary agreement to immediately suspend Iran’s production of enriched uranium. The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, praises the so-called Paris Agreement but emphasizes that any suspension will be temporary.
Iran Seems to Have Curbed Nuclear Work, U.N. Official SaysMohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says the Iranian effort appears to be an attempt to persuade the world that it does not intend to build nuclear bombs. “I think pretty much everything has come to a halt right now, so we are just trying to make sure that everything has been stopped,” he says. Mr. ElBaradei adds that operations at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility in Iran have ended, and that the agency is in the process of applying seals to shut down operations at other nuclear facilities in Iran. U.N. Official Says Iranians Seem to Curb Atom Activity
Atomic Agency Calls for Nuclear Safeguards in IranThe International Atomic Energy Agency’s board adopts a resolution to carry out its agreement with Iran on nuclear safeguards. Mr. ElBaradei says the agency has been able to verify Iran’s suspension of its enrichment activities — with one exception: its request to use up to 20 sets of centrifuge components for research and development.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Viktor Drachev/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images
Ahmadinejad Elected PresidentTo many Iranians at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is known only as a secular conservative and a former mayor of Tehran. His campaign promises include distributing the country’s growing oil income among the poor, and he appeals to a large rural constituency who vote for him in hopes of economic change. His campaign is also buoyed by the support of the country’s religious and military elite, who have been frustrated with President Khatami, a moderate. When Mr. Ahmadinejad takes office, several of the American who were held hostage in Tehran in 1979 and 1980 say they recognize him as one of their captors.
Natanz Resumes Production; U.S. Develops Secret Cyberwarfare to Counter Plantran resumes uranium enrichment at Natanz after negotiations with European and American officials stall. United States military and intelligence officials propose a top-secret cyberwar program against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Seeing few good options in dealing with Iran, President George W. Bush approves developing a computer code for investigators.
Atomic Agency Acts Against IranThe International Atomic Energy Agencyapproves a resolution to report Iran’s nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council. The resolution calls for the immediate suspension of all activities related to the enrichment of uranium, which can be used to make electricity or weapons. It also reports on Iran’s “many failures and breaches of its obligations” under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and cites “the absence of confidence” among the agency’s members “that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.” The resolution passes 27 to 3, with 5 abstentions, and opens the door for the first time to possible punishment by the Security Council. The administration of President George W. Bush says that the accusations are so serious that the Security Council must look into them.
First Round of U.N. SanctionsThe Security Council unanimously approves sanctions intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program.The sanctions ban the import and export of materials and technology used in uranium enrichment and reprocessing and in the production of ballistic missiles. The resolution, prepared by Germany and the Security Council’s five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — is the result of months of negotiations. Alejandro D. Wolff, the acting American ambassador, hails the measure as an “unambiguous message that there are serious repercussions” for Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear ambitions. He adds, however, that it is “only a first step,” saying, “If necessary, we will not hesitate to return to this body for further action if Iran fails to take steps to comply.”
Israel Joins U.S. to Develop Computer Worm to Attack NatanzThe cyberwar program begins in earnest, eventually known by the code name Olympic Games. A virtual replica of the Natanz plant is built at American national laboratories. The United States and Israel work together to develop a sophisticated computer worm.
Iran Seizes 15 British MarinesThe crisis begins on March 23, when the Britons were seized in the disputed waters of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, just north of the Persian Gulf. They are released in early April. In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair suggests that the resolution of the crisis is a vindication of Britain’s two-pronged strategy of conciliation and toughness.“Throughout, we have taken a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting either,” Mr. Blair says. Britain bears no ill will toward the Iranian people, he tells reporters, and respects Iran’s “proud and dignified history.”
U.S.-Israeli Computer Worm Attacks Iran’s Plant UndetectedThe program is introduced into a controller computer at Natanz, the crown jewel of the Iranian nuclear program. Centrifuges begin crashing and engineers at the plant have no clue that the facility is under attack. The initial breakdowns are designed to seem like small random accidents, with code variations that prompt different problems.
Detained US hikers Shane Bauer (2nd-L), Sarah Shourd (C-L) and Josh Fattal (2nd-R) sit with their mothers in Tehran in May 2010.Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Iran Arrests 3 U.S. Hikers as SpiesThree American hikers are arrested and accused of crossing the border with Iraq.The Americans — Sarah E. Shourd, Josh F. Fattal and Shane M. Bauer — are accused of espionage. Family members report that the three have been taken to Iran’s infamous Evin prison. Swiss diplomats visit them and say they are in good physical shape. News of the spying accusations draws a quick rebuke from the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever,” Mrs. Clinton says. “And we would renew our request on behalf of these three young people and their families that the Iranian government exercise compassion and release them so they can return home.”Ms. Shourd is freed in September 2010. A year later, Mr. Fattal and Mr. Bauer are also allowed to return home. The three hikers say they spent their days in custody running laps, lifting makeshift weights made from water bottles, discussing literature and quizzing each other in an effort to stay physically and mentally fit. Occasionally, they say, they heard the screams of other prisoners. “It didn’t happen often,” Ms. Shourd says, “but it doesn’t have to happen often to leave an indelible mark on your soul.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and President Obama accused Iran of building a secret nuclear fuel plant at the Pittsburgh Convention Center on Sept. 29.
U.S. and Allies Warn Iran Over Nuclear ‘Deception’The Obama administration uses the revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear enrichment plant as leverage, demanding that Iran allow international inspections.
U.S. and Israel Step Up Cyberwar Efforts; Aim for Critical Centrifuges in NatanzPresident Obama continues the cyberwar program. The National Security Agency and Israel’s secretive Unit 8200 decide to swing for the fences this time. They target a critical array of centrifuges composed of nearly 1,000 machines, whose failure would be a huge setback to Iran. A special version of the computer worm is developed, with the Israelis putting the finishing touches on the program.
Computer Worms Leak Online; Destroy One Fifth of CentrifugesThe United States and Israel realize that copies of the worm have escaped Natanz and are available on the Internet, where they are replicating quickly. In a few weeks, articles appear in the technical press, and then in mainstream newspapers, about a mysterious new computer worm carried on USB keys that exploits a hole in the Windows operating system. The worm is named Stuxnet. Obama decides not to kill the program, and a subsequent attack takes out nearly 1,000 Iranian centrifuges, nearly a fifth of those operating.
Ambassadors Susan E. Rice of the United States, Mark Lyall Grant of Britain and Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda voted in favor of the Iranian sanctions. The Turkish ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan, voted against them.Mario Tama/Getty Images
U.N. Approves New SanctionsThe United Nations Security Council levels its fourth round of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions curtail military purchases, trade and financial transactions carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the nuclear program. The Security Council also requires countries to inspect ships or planes headed to or from Iran if they suspect banned cargo is aboard. In addition, Iran is barred from investing in other countries’ nuclear enrichment plants, uranium mines and related technologies, and the Security Council sets up a committee to monitor enforcement.
Police officers chased protesters on the British Embassy grounds.Reuters
Iranians Storm British Embassy in TehranIranian state television shows student protesters breaking into the British Embassy in Tehran and hurling rocks and gasoline bombs. The protesters also briefly detained six of the embassy’s staff members. Press TV, Iran’s official English-language satellite channel,reports that militant students pulled down the British flag at the compound, which is about a mile from the former American Embassy seized by students in 1979. The attack occurs a day after Iran’s government enacts legislation to downgrade diplomatic ties between the two countries, in retaliation for British sanctions on Iranian banks accused of helping the country’s nuclear program. The new law calls for Britain’s ambassador to be expelled.
Natanz Plant RecoversAfter a dip in 2010, Iranian production recovers. The United States estimates that Olympic Games delayed Iran’s progress toward a weapons capability by a year and a half or two years. Others dispute the estimate, saying it overstates the effect.
U.S. and Israel Continue Cyberwar Tactics Against Iran’s Nuclear EffortsWith the program still running, intelligence agencies in the United States and Israel seek out new targets that could further slow Iran’s progress.
Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency supplied this photo of what it said was Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan’s car after the bombing.Meghdad Madadi/Fars News Agency, via Associated Press