This has left President Obama vaguely threatening action against Tehran. But the lack of international consensus on the issue – coupled with the administration’s adamant refusal to consider the use of force – means that the president is left shooting diplomatic blanks.
Iran had originally agreed in principle to an exchange of fuel with Russia and France.
According to the plan, Iran would ship enriched uranium to those nations in exchange for processed fuel. This fuel, while sufficient to generate electricity and rare isotopes needed to treat cancer, would not be potent enough to build nuclear warheads. Additionally, since Iran’s fuel would arrive from external sources, Western intelligence would no longer be in the dark as to the state of Iran’s nuclear program. In theory, they would know its status to the very last gram of nuclear material.
Iran has now backed away from this agreement. Tehran now insists that it would not give up its uranium until already in possession of Russian fuel. Given that the entire purpose of the endeavor is to deny Iran usable nuclear fuel, rewarding them for non-compliance would be counter-productive. Iranian diplomats and officials have mused about a “simultaneous swap” of fuel to take place on Iranian soil, but considering their past record of revoking agreements, it is doubtful that any country would trust the regime enough to fly in fresh nuclear fuel before first being given material proof of Iran’s willingness to cooperate.
All this plays into Tehran’s hand. They get all the positive publicity of appearing to be negotiating earnestly, while retaining possession of their fuel.
With each day, Iran moves closer to deploying nuclear warheads, and the world is left playing games.
The president and his supporters have failed to grasp that salient truth. Iran has not given up its nuclear program because Iran wants nuclear weapons. And Iran can’t be convinced to do give up its nuclear ambitions absent the threat of serious reprisal.