Good News On Iran?

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


In his new blog, Julian Borger of The Guardian has an intriguing take on today’s talks about Iran’s nuclear program. From his perspective, there’s potential good news:

The dust is settling in the wake of the Geneva meeting, and it seems to have been a lot more productive than expected. Mohamed ElBaradei will be in Tehran on Saturday to nail down an inspection date for the newly-revealed Qom enrichment plant. There will also be another meeting of the E3+3 group with Iran before the end of October to continue negotiations on Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.

Most importantly, however, there is an “agreement in principle” that Iran will send out a significant chunk of its low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for further enriching and then to France, to be processed into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), for making medical isotopes.

If all this happens – and there will be a meeting on the details between Iran, France and Russia at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on October 18 – then a lot of the uranium the world is currently worrying about would be temporarily taken out of the equation. Western officials here say that to restock the TRR, Iran would have to send out up to 1200 kg of LEU. That’s about three-quarters of what they’ve got, and it would be out of the country for a year. When it came back it would be in the form of fuel rods, so it could not be turned into weapons grade material in a quick breakout scenario.

The deal was apparently hatched by the Americans and Russians over the past month, and it could be a masterful means of lowering tensions. It would not infringe what Iran argues is its sovereign right to a fully-fledged nuclear programme, so face would be saved. But it takes off the table, for the time being, the main source of immediate anxiety – the uranium stockpile.

Of course anxiety is only relieved to the degree that you believe that there are no other Qoms hidden up Iranian sleeves. That is a question of confidence to be addressed by a new deal with the IAEA. And Iran would continue to enrich, even under freeze-for-freeze. But time will have been bought.

Of course, the deal could easily unravel on October 18, when the talk turns to details, but it does represent a cheap way for Tehran to achieve what it says it wants to achieve – civilian applications of nuclear technology.

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate