More than a Historical Sidenote: The Nuclear Ambitions of the Shah of Iran

  • Jack Sargent


Scholarly work on nuclear proliferation tends to relegate the atomic aspirations of the Shah to the role of a framing device for the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This approach is lacking, as it overlooks a large body of primary source material which portends to an alarming interest in, and potential movement towards nuclear weapons on the part of the Iranian ruler. This article will examine whether the Shah took any concrete steps towards developing nuclear weapons. In arguing that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi did so, two arguments are made. Firstly, that the Shah’s nuclear energy programme, when completed, would have allowed for nuclear weapons to be developed. Secondly, there were multiple efforts by the Shah to procure weapon systems which are key in a functioning nuclear deterrent.

Author Biography

Jack Sargent
Jack Sargent is a postgraduate History and International Relations student at the London School of Economics and Political Science.