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In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford signed a directive that granted Iran the opportunity to purchase U.S. built reprocessing equipment and facilities designed to extract plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel.
According to Washington Post Staff Writer Dafna Linzer, “Ford’s team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium – the two pathways to a nuclear bomb. Either can be shaped into the core of a nuclear warhead, and obtaining one or the other is generally considered the most significant obstacle to would-be weopons builders.”