Iran has been pursuing its nuclear program since the 1950's - at first as part of a sanctioned effort by Washington to expand the use of nuclear power. Yet, much to the chagrin of the U.S., the Shah began an effort to build a nuclear weapon in the late 1960s, and the Islamic Revolution which displaced him picked up where he left off. The contemporary controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program centers on Iran's failure to disclose its enrichment and processing activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. In December 2007, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the U.S. government suggested that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015. The NIE suggested that Iran halted nuclear arms program in 2003 but has been conducting research and development projects with commercial and conventional military applications—some of which would be of limited use for nuclear weapons. Iran agreed to engage in direct talks with members of the international community after a year of indirect tactics by both sides. But progress has been elusive and some question whether Iran's true motive in talks is to stall for time.
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