Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gary Sick is pretty much right about the deal

Not much to add. Except what I've already written. Gary Sick did a terrible job analyzing Iran's June 2009 election and its aftermath, but pretty much gets the situation right regarding the recent agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey.
We should also be reminded that Iran did not reject the original deal: they proposed amending it. Basically, when the Iranian negotiators came home with the proposed deal, they were attacked from all sides – including members of the Green Movement – for being suckers. Their opponents pointed out that they were going to rely on the word and good will of Russia (where the LEU would be enriched to 20 percent) and France (where the fuel cells would be fabricated). Iranians from left to right argued that both of these countries had repeatedly cheated Iran on nuclear issues: Russia by delaying endlessly the completion of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr, and France by refusing to grant Iran rights to the Eurodif enrichment facility partially owned by Iran since the days of the shah. Why, they asked, should we believe that this agreement will be any different?


So where does that leave us?

Essentially, it takes us back to last October. The one big difference is that Iran has more LEU now than it did then. But the reality is that Iran will keep producing LEU unless a new agreement is reached to persuade them to stop. If we had completed the agreement of a swap in October, Iran would have the same amount of LEU as it has now. If we wait another six months for negotiations, Iran will have still more LEU.


Although angst is high among the sanctions-at-all-costs crowd, this path to a nuclear swap deal was fully endorsed by the United States and was the centerpiece of the justification for sanctions. One way to respond at this point may just be to declare that our threat of sanctions worked: Iran has capitulated and we accept yes as an answer.

Hmmm…are we that smart?
Sanctions will not slow the production of LEU. Nothing the US can do would be effective at that. The idea is slowly spreading through the US foreign policy establishment that a nuclear capable Iran is not something to be prevented, but a fact that the US will have to acknowledge and manage.

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