Turkey’s diplomatic persistence with Iran may pay off

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Iran has pledged to stop enriching uranium to the higher grade needed for a medical research reactor if world powers agree to a fuel-swap deal it outlined earlier this year with Turkey and Brazil, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.

The offer marks the latest in an international tug-of-war over the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which denies international allegations that it is pursuing nuclear weaponry. U.S. and European diplomats say Iran’s offer suggests it has felt the pinch of a rash of economic sanctions imposed on Tehran since June.

The United Nations imposed sanctions in part because Iran insisted it would continue enriching nuclear fuel to 20%, a level Tehran said was necessary to fuel a medical-research reactor and that the U.S. and others feared was a step toward creating nuclear weapons.

Mr. Davutoglu said Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki offered to change Tehran’s position on continuing enrichment when the two men met in Istanbul on Sunday. Mr. Mottaki had said “there will be no need for Iran to continue 20% enrichment if the Tehran Agreement was realized and the country gets the fuel it needs,” Mr. Davutoglu told a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday.

The Obama administration is said to be “studying” the discussions. I would hope that behind the scenes they are sending unambiguous positive signals to Turkey. The issue of continued enrichment was the supposedly the reason for earlier rejecting the Turkish-Brazilian brokered deal with Iran. If Turkey can now deliver on the administration’s key demands, we will get to find out whether Washington is operating in good faith. Let’s see.

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