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Sunday, April 29, 2012

US ready to concede Iranian enrichment to 5%?

The United States is on the verge of conceding to Iran the right to enrich uranium to the 5% level, according to a report in Friday's Los Angeles Times. The Times is calling this a 'major shift.'
U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity, which is the upper end of the range for most civilian uses, if its government agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the United Nations has long demanded.

Such a deal would face formidable obstacles. Iran has shown little willingness to meet international demands. And a shift in the U.S. position that Iran must halt all enrichment activities is likely to prompt strong objections from Israeli leaders; the probable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney; and many members of Congress.

But a consensus has gradually emerged among U.S. and other officials that Iran is unlikely to agree to a complete halt in enrichment. Maintaining an unconditional demand that it do so could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop the country's nuclear program, thereby avoiding a military attack.
Ed Morrissey says this isn't such a big deal.
As this concession is described by the LA Times, nothing much has changed except for the sequencing. Iran would still have to surrender any uranium enriched to the 20% mark, open all of its facilities to unrestricted inspections, and limit enrichment to 5%, far below any useful level for weapons. That was going to be the end status for any kind of verifiable Iranian cooperation anyway, and without verification, nothing would change from the current status quo, except to get worse. I doubt the Iranians will agree to this resequencing, mainly because I don’t think they will ever allow unrestricted inspections.
I agree that it's doubtful that Iran will ever agree to the conditions, but I'm not sure we should be minimizing the significance of the concession, especially given Iran's past history of enriching uranium in secret. This is from the Times again.
The question of whether to permit even low enrichment is highly sensitive for the U.S. government and its allies because of the risk that Iranian scientists still might be able to gain the knowledge and experience to someday build a bomb. But administration officials hope a new negotiating stance, backed by punishing economic sanctions, could help end the crisis.
And Ed has a pretty good idea of why this is coming up now:
I suspect that the White House feels the need for a big win in foreign affairs, and resolving the Iranian crisis peacefully would give Barack Obama a huge boost in prestige before the elections. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as Obama doesn’t give away the house in order to get a Neville Chamberlain moment.
The problem is that based upon Obama's past history, he would give away the house - and more - for a Neville Chamberlain moment.

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At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The five percent per se--maybe not such a big deal were it not another self-inflicted cancellation of yet another Obama "commitment"--first we are told, no, never, no enrichment. And then, Iranian's won't like that, so 5%, and then we'll be told that the Iranian's don't like this other thing and the whole thing dissolves like a sand castle at high tide. O has a history of making meaningless high-flown promises--they can't even be called lies since the whole point of a bs'ers bs is to ignore the line between truth and non-truth in the service of sweat-flop expediency.

The question is whether Bibi means his own demands: stop enriching uranium, remove already enriched uranium, and close the underground Fordow nuclear facility near Qom--but O's words circle around the drain of the moment and then disappear forever.


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