Did the Iran Nuclear Talks Succeed?

Iran agreed to send its uranium to Russia for enrichment, a temporary solution

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Multilateral talks with Iran have yielded an interesting solution to its just-revealed secret nuclear program. Iran has agreed to send its uranium to Russia, where it will be enriched enough for use as fuel in a medical research reactor, but not enough to be weaponized. This effectively freezes Iran's enrichment and sets the stage for later rounds of discussion. Thursday's talks, which took place in Geneva, may have brought a resolution for the moment, but discussion over their long-term meaning is far from over.

  • Buys Time, But No Permanent Solution  Allahpundit remains skeptical. "Iran could simply feed Russia some low enriched uranium in order to soothe western fears about its nuke program while continuing to weaponize uranium in its secret facilities. Even if Iran’s on the level and is willing to send its entire current uranium stockpile to an outside party for processing, the machinery to weaponize uranium would still remain in place, ready and willing to go whenever Tehran decides to restart the program." Even if Iran breaks its end of the deal, "then at best this is simply buying time. Which isn't a terrible outcome — it gives Mousavi's green movement a little space to try to unseat the regime, after all — but it's kicking the can down the road, not resolving the issue."
  • End of American Unilateralism  National Journal's Bill Schneider lauds Obama's multilateral approach. "The real test is Iran -- not whether it becomes more co-operative with the United States but whether the U.S. can persuade other countries to cooperate in keeping pressure on Tehran to end its nuclear program," he wrote. "With Iran caught cheating, the United States had what it needed, leverage to organize an international coalition to confront Tehran." "That's multilateralism. If tough sanctions are imposed on Iran, they will not be 'made in America.'"
  • Only Engagement Is Viable  The Guardian calls public talks the only real option. "If this meeting marks the start of a substantive dialogue which has been so woefully lacking for three decades then that is, by a long measure, the most desirable outcome," it wrote. The paper says sanctions alone would be ineffective. "When the oil price dropped to less than a quarter of its peak value last year, the revolutionary guards carried on regardless." It dismisses air strikes as "appalling" and certain to worsen the situation. "It would be the start of a conflagration that would spread rapidly from the Strait of Hormuz to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza and Lebanon."
  • Talks Could Legitimize Ahmadinejad  The Wall Street Journal warns that direct talks could help Iran's leader, who has struggled since winning Iran's apparently rigged election in June. "This engagement conferred a respectability on his regime that Mr. Ahmadinejad could only have imagined amid his vicious post-election crackdown," it wrote. "This supposed fresh start in Geneva only gives them new legitimacy, and new hope that they can have their bomb and enhanced global standing too."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.