For 8 years, Bush-Cheney practiced what I call “belligerent Ostrichism” toward Iran. They refused to talk to Tehran. They wanted to ratchet up sanctions on it. Bush sent 2 aircraft carriers to the Gulf to menace Iran. Bush’s spokesmen professed themselves afraid of Iran’s unarmed little speedboats in the Gulf. Aside from issuing threats to attack and destroy Iran the way they did Iraq, Bush-Cheney had nothing else to say on the matter. During the 8 years, Iran went from being able to enrich to .2% to being able to enrich to 3.8%, and increased its stock of centrifuges significantly. Bush-Cheney gesticulated and grimaced and fainted away at the horror of it all, but they accomplished diddly-squat.
Barack Obama pwned Bush-Cheney in one day, and got more concessions from Iran in 7 1/2 hours than the former administration got in 8 years of saber-rattling. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — A State Department background briefing provides more details on the lead up to the agreement and how it will be implemented:
During the plenary and on the margins and during our sidebar discussion… we discussed the question of the Tehran research reactor. And maybe a little background would be helpful. This is a research reactor which has been in operation in Tehran for decades, producing medical isotopes under strict IAEA safeguards. The last supply of fuel for this reactor, which is at roughly 19.75 percent LEU, was supplied by the Argentine government in the early 1990s and it’s going to run out in roughly the next year, year and a half.
Iran came to the IAEA a few months ago with the request to replace this supply. The IAEA consulted us and some others, some other members, and to make a long story short the United States and Russia joined together in a proposal to the IAEA which the IAEA subsequently conveyed as a response to the Iranians, to use Iran’s own LEU stockpile as the basis, as the feedstock for the reactor fuel that’s required.
This would then entail taking its LEU, which is enriched to about 3.5 percent, enriching it up to 19.75 percent in Russia, which the Russians have now publicly confirmed that they’re prepared to do, and then fabricating that into fuel assemblies which can be used at this safeguarded reactor, and the French have now confirmed their willingness to play that last role. Those are the basic details involved in the proposal. The potential advantage of this, if it’s implemented, is that it would significantly reduce Iran’s LEU stockpile which itself is a source of anxiety in the Middle East and elsewhere.
During our talks today the Iranians agreed to accept this proposal in principle, and there’s to be a meeting in Vienna on the 18th of October, led by IAEA experts, to try to work out the details.
So again, at least in our view, the research reactor proposal made by the IAEA would be a positive interim step to help build confidence so that we’d have more diplomatic space to pursue Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Security Council Resolutions, the NPT and the IAEA, and to tackle the more fundamental question of Iran’s nuclear program.