ISIS Iran Report

Mousavi’s connection to the Khan network

Mousavi’s connection to the Khan network photo

June 10, 2009

IAEA reports are an endlessly fascinating source of information.  Mir Hussein Mousavi is widely viewed as Iran’s presidential candidate with the strongest support from reform-minded voters and is on record supporting renewed dialogue with the Perm-5 plus 1 on Iran’s nuclear program (according to recent media reports, he may also be on the verge of staging a stunning upset of incumbent Ahmadinejad, or at least forcing the election to a run-off).  While ISIS has no reason to doubt Mousavi’s reformist credentials, and is encouraged by his commitment to renewed diplomacy with the United States and others, it is worth taking note of a small but important role that Mousavi played in the development of Iran’s uranium enrichment program in the 1980s.


According to the November 2007 IAEA report, the decision to acquire centrifuge technology from the A.Q. Khan network was made by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and endorsed by then-Prime Minister Mousavi in 1987.  In 2007, Iran provided the IAEA with a copy of a “confidential communication” between the AEOI and Prime Minister Mousavi dated March 5, 1987 in which the AEOI President stated that Iran’s activities with the Khan network “should be treated fully confidentially.”  The communication was intended in part to substantiate Iran’s assurances to the IAEA that no military organization was involved in the centrifuge program.  Mousavi effectively approved Iran’s use of the black market to pursue its secret gas centrifuge program.  This decision, made more than two decades ago, may not reflect Mr. Mousavi’s current thinking regarding Iran’s nuclear program or nuclear proliferation in general, but it is worth being aware of. 

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