Can the Obama Administration Take a Deal with Iran on the TRR?

We have argued that the Obama Administration’s approach to Iran sanctions is, truly, a “dead end” policy and that the only way out of this dead end “is to get serious about nuclear diplomacy with Iran — first of all, by reaching agreement on a plan to refuel the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).” Although the Administration continues to depict Iran as having rejected the possibility of working with the international community to refuel the TRR, this is not an accurate representation of reality.

Since October 2009, the Islamic Republic has accepted “in principle” the idea of a “swap” deal for refueling the TRR — that is, a deal in which some part of Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be exchanged for new fuel assemblies for the TRR. Iranian officials — including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki — have reiterated this position on numerous occasions over the past six months.

That this remains Iran’s position on the TRR issue was confirmed yesterday in Washington by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, at a press conference at the Turkish Embassy (see Ben Katcher’s post) and at an invitation-only session at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the Council, Davotuğlu was adamant in his insistence that a diplomatic solution to the current nuclear impasse is “still possible — on the TRR especially.” Davutoğlu “has traveled to Iran five times since August and spoken for more than 14 hours w…

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