Feature

Nuclear talks with Iran

Iran said it would present new proposals at nuclear talks with the U.S. and other world powers in Istanbul.

Iran said it would present new proposals at critical nuclear talks with the U.S. and other world powers this week, hinting that it was prepared to limit its production of highly enriched uranium. The U.S. has raised concerns about Iran’s stockpiling of uranium enriched to 20 percent fissile purity, which can be turned into weapons-grade material in a matter of months. But days before the start of negotiations in Istanbul, Fereidoun Abbasi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said the country might stop higher-grade enrichment as soon as it had enough fuel to power a medical research reactor. Abbasi’s proposal falls far short of the Obama administration’s demands that the regime transfer its stockpile of highly enriched uranium out of the country and dismantle its recently completed underground nuclear site at Fordo. Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the regime would accept no “conditions set before the talks.”

Here we go again, said Benny Avni in the New York Post. Just as it did before previous talks, the Iranian regime is floating compromises so that it can drag out negotiations while continuing to “advance its nuclear-weapons program.” Sadly, Obama is willing to play along with the mullahs’ game, as he “thinks the status quo is good enough to let him highlight his national-security credentials on the campaign trail.”

But Obama has already doomed these talks to failure, said Paul Pillar in The National Interest. By demanding the dismantling of the Fordo facility—where Iran produces all of its highly enriched uranium—he’s sent a message that the West will only tolerate an Iranian nuclear program “consisting of facilities that would suffer significant damage if we, or the Israelis, later decide to bomb.” That proposal won’t inspire trust, let alone agreement, from Iran’s leaders.

It’s a tough offer, said Roula Khalaf in the Financial Times, but Iran can’t afford to refuse it. This round of talks really is the regime’s last chance. If the negotiations fail, Israel will almost certainly bomb Iran’s nuclear sites—an act that could provoke a wider regional conflict. Iran will no doubt resist calls to close Fordo. But given the high stakes, “defiance would be the more damaging of options.”

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