October 12, 2004

Iran: No really, appeased!

Hm, while I was busy considering the pros and cons of a "grand bargain" with Iran, the Bush administration went ahead and decided that the Kerry approach wasn't such a bad idea after all:
The diplomats said that while the administration had not endorsed any incentives for Iran, it was not discouraging Britain, France and Germany from assembling a package that the administration would consider after the American presidential election on Nov. 2, for likely presentation to Tehran later in the month.

But the discussions with the Europeans are also said to include specifics on what sanctions would be sought if Iran turns down any incentives presented by the Europeans, the European and American diplomats said. Because there may not be enough votes for sanctions on the Security Council, sanctions might only be adopted by the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan.

The package being discussed would, among other things, let Iran import nuclear fuel from Russia for its reactor at Bushehr, under an agreement in which Russia would then re-import the spent fuel and store it. In return, Iran would suspend its enrichment of 37 tons of yellowcake, which is nearly raw uranium.
Hm, so are they worried about the security concerns surrounding spent fuel? Or did the National Review overstate its case? Who knows? At any rate, kudos to the Bush administration for at least approximating a sane policy. At some point, the U.S. is going to need to sit down with Iran and discuss security issues—how else are you going to get Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. But Bush either won't do that out of principle or can't do that because his Iran team is paralyzed by disagreement. Nevertheless, the current "grand bargain", if it works, (and Russia seems to be willing to push Iran into it) would offer a solid start for further engagement, ideally taken up by a Kerry administration.
-- Brad Plumer 1:52 PM || ||