Iran's New Flexibility: Can the U.S. Take Yes for an Answer?
Time via Yahoo! News / Tony Karon

U.N. Security Council resolutions, backed by limited sanctions, require that Iran suspend enrichment until transparency concerns raised by the IAEA are settled. But the Western demand that Iran cede the right to enrich its own uranium is a more ambitious goal that doesn't have U.N. backing - because enrichment under safeguards to prevent weaponization is a right of all signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty. When Iran insists it won't negotiate over its "nuclear rights," that's a signal that it has no intention of giving up enrichment. And the Iranians have so far declined to discuss even a "freeze for freeze" proposal offered by the West last summer, in which no further sanctions would be adopted if Iran simply refrained from expanding its existing enrichment capacity.

The West would prefer that Iran did not have the civilian nuclear infrastructure that would give it the option of building weapons, but the more likely outcome of a diplomatic process is one that strengthens safeguards against weaponization rather than reversing Tehran's existing enrichment capacity. And the question of whether that's acceptable to the West will ultimately be answered by a cost-benefit analysis of the available alternatives.

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