The debate in the United States about the Iranian nuclear program has been conducted in near total ignorance of and indifference to Iranian history and culture. Not surprisingly, the resulting American policies have been ineffective in forcing Iran to halt its program and have probably been counterproductive. In fact, the Iranian insistence on continuing an indigenous nuclear program has deep roots in the modern Iranian historical experience. Modern Iranian history has been shaped by the struggle to maintain the independence and cultural integrity of the nation against outside pressure. Thus, in understanding Iranian reactions to international pressure to abandon their nuclear program and what the program's goals are, it might be well to start by considering why every Iranian knows why it was that one day in December 1891, the Shah's wife refused to give him his morning pipe of tobacco.