Barbara Slavin reports: As Iran, the United States and their negotiating partners prepare to meet again in Geneva this week, a potential compromise is taking shape that would allow Iran to keep all or most of its declared nuclear facilities, but under strict monitoring and other restrictions that would make it extremely difficult to build weapons. Even if such a deal was to be concluded, however, it’s not an outcome that would be easily accepted by Israel and its more hawkish allies on Capitol Hill.
Officials familiar with the negotiations suggest that the emerging compromise formula could satisfy the urgent non-proliferation concerns of the U.S. and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) group, while also allowing Iran to say that its right to a peaceful nuclear program had been respected.
Declared opponents of such a compromise — including Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – insist that Iran be required to dismantle most if not all its nuclear infrastructure, especially the underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordow and a heavy water reactor under construction at Arak which, when completed and brought online, would yield plutonium, another potential bomb fuel. However, even if Iran proves willing to accept new limits on its production of nuclear fuel and more intrusive monitoring of its facilities, it’s unlikely to agree to destroy infrastructure for whose construction it has paid such a heavy economic and diplomatic price. (Even if it did agree to their dismantling, Iran would retain the know-how to rebuild them.) Former and current U.S. officials – and even several Israeli security experts – have told this author that any realistic diplomatic solution would leave Iran with some enrichment capacity. [Continue reading…]