After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Republic's new leaders confronted the dilemma of what to do with the remnants of the Pahlavi monarchy. One such remnant was the partially constructed nuclear power plant located in the southeastern city of Bushehr along the Persian Gulf. Construction of the plant by a group of German companies had begun just four years earlier, under Mohammad Reza Shah.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the creation of a five-person fact-finding committee to investigate the Bushehr plant and advise on its status. One of its members was a young graduate of the nuclear engineering doctorate program at MIT, Ali Akbar Salehi, who in late 2010 became one of the most prominent figures in Iranian politics when he was appointed foreign minister by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.