Iran's pursuit of nuclear energy gained more momentum following a study in
1973 carried out by the U.S.-based Stanford Research Institute, which predicted
Iran's need for nuclear energy and recommended the building of nuclear plants capable
of generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity before 1994.^3 Accordingly, plans
were made to construct up to twenty nuclear power stations across the country.
Numerous contracts were signed with various Western companies to build nuclear
power plants and train Iranian nuclear scientists as Western countries competed
with one another in bids on Iran's nuclear projects.
The German firm ICraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens AG) was awarded
the contract to build two nuclear reactors at Bushehr power plant in 1974 and
started its construction operation in August 1975.'*'' The same year, Iran signed a
contract with a French company (Framatome) to build two 950 megawatt reactors
at Darkhovin, south of the city of Ahvaz.45
An extendible ten-year nuclear fuel contract was concluded with the United
States and France in 1974 and 1975 respectively.''^ Iran also purchased a 10 percent
share in a Eurodif uranium enrichment plant with the possibility of increasing its
share to 15 percent in the coming years.^7
In 1976, Iran expressed its interest in acquiring uranium enrichment technology.
South Africa agreed to supply $700 million of yellowcake to Iran.48 The United
States followed suit. According to National Security Decision Memorandum 292,
dated 22 April 1975, the U.S. President decided to "permit U.S. material to be fabricated
into fuel in Iran for its own reactors and for pass-through to third countries
with whom we have agreement." It also envisaged approving "reprocessing of U.S.
material in a multinational plant in Iran."49
In short, as a 1978 U.S. State Department memo summarized "we have been
encouraged by Iran's efforts to broaden its non-oil energy base. We are hopeful that
the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Energy Agreement will be finalized soon and that American
companies will be able to play a role in Iran's nuclear energy program."^o The shah
of Iran had become the poster boy for the U.S. nuclear industry