Let’s not re-do Iraq. A week or two before the invasion, it has been reported, an intermediary from Saddam Hussain was in touch with Richard Pearl, one of the architects of the Iraq War, to make contact with our government to negotiate something short of war and, evidently, at that point we were unwilling to consider anything other than Saddam Hussein immediately stepping down as President. Our dismissiveness towards the Iranians seems similarly short-sighted.
To take the negative reactions of an ‘unnamed senior White House official’ as the official United States response to the reports Iran has made a reasonable proposal to swap out their LEU (low-enriched uranium) appears contrary to all our interests.
Iran apparently has agreed to swap one-third of their weaponizable (with extensive processing) LEU immediately for the non-weaponizable fuel rods. If they were so intent on building a few nuclear bombs, why would they make it impossible for themselves to do that by giving up one-third of their supply of the needed raw material?
Contrary to the major world newspapers and news services spin on the proposal being an “effective rejection” of the UN brokered plan, Iran’s plan seems to assume the West’s intentions are honest, i.e., to make sure they have the enriched uranium they need for their reactor to produce the medically-related products. A side benefit which should reduce the nervousness of the west resultant from Iran having so much potentially weaponizable uranium on hand would result. The LEU would be exchanged on Kish Island. We would deliver the fuel rods to their possession, and they would deliver the LEU to our possession, obviously to remove from the country. Depending on how quickly France might be able to produce the fuel rods with enriched uranium of their own, the Iranian supplies would be replaced with the far less problematic fuel rods.
This proposal simply guarantees both sides will remain honest in the transaction.
According to Mr. El Barradei, who was quoted as conceiving the proposal, it was his ‘off the cuff’ idea, which he submitted to the IAEA and Iran as a proposal; that’s my understanding. A proposal between nations is a little like a proposed health care bill in Congress; there can be modifications, and discussions back home with the constituents. Diplomacy between nations is obviously even more problematic, however. So what was it the President said in his Nobel acceptance speech? Do unto others as we do unto ourselves? That entails patience and a willingness to set aside for the moment what we see as their ongoing sins.
“Not enough faith is lack of good faith” it is said. The IAEA has cameras all over Natanz, and inspectors checking the quality and amounts of enriched uranium. If any of it were removed, the IAEA would be immediately aware of it. We should give a peaceful process a chance.