A Deal With Iran

| Wed Oct. 21, 2009 12:29 PM EDT

The talks with Iran about a deal to ship its low-enriched uranium out of the country to be turned into fuel for its medical research reactor went into overtime, but today a tentative agreement was announced:

The head of the world's atomic energy watchdog said Iran and world powers have until Friday to approve a proposed deal to transfer most of Iran's nuclear material abroad to be reformatted for medical purposes.

...."We have had very constructive discussions, intensive discussions," Iran's envoy to the atomic energy agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said after the meeting, according to news agencies....Under the terms of the deal sketched out before this week's meeting, Iran would send up to 80% of its supply of low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be further refined, and France, where it would be turned into plates for use in a medical research reactor.

It's a positive step.  On the other hand, Iran's ability to enrich LEU into weapons grade uranium is a little fuzzy right now, so it's possible that this costs them nothing at all.  It will take them upwards of a year to replace the stockpile of LEU they send out of the country, but if they're a year away from mastering the full enrichment cycle then this deal doesn't actually slow them down any.

Still, this is good news.  It's not great news, and I wouldn't take it as a sign of a new era in Iranian relations or anything.  But it's better than nothing.

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