Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (Sazeman-e Energy Atomi)

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI or Sazeman-e Energy Atomi in Farsi, also referred to as the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, not to be confused with the International Atomic Energy Agency), set up in 1973-74 to produce nuclear energy for electricity needs, focused in 1987 on the exploration and use of uranium deposits and on the use of nuclear energy in industry, agriculture, and medicine. Dr. Akbar Etemad was the first head of the AEOI. Etemad resigned in October 1978 over accusations of mismanagement and embezzlement and was replaced by Ahmad Sofudehnia, previously the AEOI's Vice President.

The AEOI was broken down into five divisions: Research Division, Nuclear Power Plant Division, Nuclear Fuel Production Division, Planning, Education, and Parliament Affairs Division (also referred to simply as the Planning and Education Division), and the Iranian Nuclear Regulatory Division (also referred to as the Nuclear Safety Division). The AEOI also set up a Public Affairs element and operated a scientific journal, the Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology. Various subordinate entities fall under the various divisions. These included Iran's various nuclear research facilities, their nuclear production facilities, and the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The Research Division, Nuclear Power Division, and Nuclear Fuel Production Division controlled their respective facilities and programs. The Education and Planning Division of the AEOI worked on fostering relations with similar organizations abroad, and interacting with other government and international agencies. The Division also represented the AEOI at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other hearings and legal proceedings concerning the work of the AEOI. As a state that had both signed and ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the AEOI held regular meetings with the IAEA and were also present at the yearly Board of Governors meetings.

The Iranian Nuclear Regulatory Division also worked with the IAEA on safeguarding Iran's declared nuclear facilities and otherwise ensuring the safety of workers and bystanders to those facilities. It had the responsibility to prepare the necessary technical standards, regulations and procedures in all fields related to the safety of nuclear installations, radiation protection and to supervise their application.

The IAEA provided assistance to the Nuclear Power Production Division of the AEOI through expert missions and training to enhance its operational capabilities. These included project organization and management, technical specification of the plant, quality assurance and safety aspects of the conceptual design.

The AEOI is among the small number of executive branch agencies in Iran that report directly to the President. Fereydun Sahabi, the first head of the AEOI following the Revolution stated that no foreigners would be employed on Iran's nuclear projects and was at the head of the organization when the contract with the German consortium KWU for the completion of the Bushehr reactor were canceled. In 1986 AEOI sought to compell the delivery of various components that had reportedly been already payed for by Iran prior to the Revolution. By that point Gholam Reza Amrollahi had replaced Sahabi as head of the organization. There were suggestions during the late 1980s and early 1990s that with the AEOI's direct reporting to the President that the head of the organization might not have been in complete control of the organizations focus and priorities.

Following the August 1997 inauguration of President Khatami, Oil Minister Gholamreza Aghazadeh was appointed to head the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, replacing Reza Amrollahi, who was widely regarded as incompetent. Aghazadeh soon announced plans to enlarge Iran's civilian nuclear program, to include the purchase of several new reactors following the completion of the reactor at Bushehr. The new order reportedly includes another 1000MWe unit and two 440 MWe units from Russia to be located at Bushehr, and two 300 MWe units from China, possibly to be located at Darkhovin.

The AEOI had been at the forefront of Iranian denials of uranium enrichment and other nuclear programs. By 2003-2004 IAEA investigations had proven that the AEOI had not completely declared its nuclear facilities, including some which had been set up and shut down prior to that time.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list