Five years before the Islamic Revolution, Iran produced 6.1 million barrels of oil a day. By the end of 2006 the Iranian oil industry was only pumping 3.9 million barrels a day, 5 percent below its OPEC quota. Barely able to produce any oil for export or cope with escalating domestic demand, Iran’s energy industry has been sliding steadily toward crisis. Yet Iran’s oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s, and its gas supply is eclipsed only by Russia’s. Having vast energy reserves and the technology to extract and refine them, however, are two different things. A mega-deal struck […]

The Bush administration’s current suspicion that Iran plans to manufacture nuclear weapons is not the first time that Washington has faced such intentions from Tehran, but earlier the circumstances were different. In the late 1970s, U.S. intelligence learned that Iran’s ruler, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had secretly set up a nuclear weapons development program. According to the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, between 1974 and 1978 the Iranians were carrying out “laboratory experiments in which plutonium was extracted from spent [nuclear] fuel using chemical agents.” Plutonium is an ingredient for nuclear weapons. The difference between then and now […]