Thursday, November 10, 2005

Iran Deal Delays Inevitable

The US and EU have presented a compromise deal to Iran whereby that nation would be allowed to produce nuclear energy for peaceful domestic purposes. Iran would be denied the ability to enhance uranium, however, and would be required to ship uranium to Russia for enhancement. Russia, in turn, would ship the finished product to Iran for use in their nuclear reactors. (Guardian Unlimited Iran offered nuclear power deal).

Germany remains skeptical about Iran’s motives, however. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed the concern, "There is a lack of transparency. That is clear. We still have some suspicions that there are developments being pursued [by Iran] that go against this principle."

He went on to add, "Whoever denies the right of Israel to exist is really jeopardizing a peaceful resolution. Iran has a right that the international community accept its sovereign rights, its national pride and honor. But what is more important is that the international community has a right to get objective guarantees that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively used for peaceful purposes.”

That Germany is concerned about Iran’s duplicity should be enough to raise warning flags around the world. Even if Iran accepts the proffered deal, which is no slam-dunk, the world will forever need to scrutinize Iran’s use of nuclear energy. This deal demands a permanent inspection presence in Iran and constant vigilance regarding the acquisition, handling, and disposal of nuclear fuels. Iran simply cannot be trusted to behave properly in this regard. They will require non-stop monitoring.

Of equal concern is the use of Russia as Iran’s source of enriched uranium. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has become more of a mercenary state desperate for money. The willingness of Russia to sell nuclear technology to anyone with coin in their pocket is problematic at best. As much as I distrust Iran to use any nuclear technology solely for peaceful purposes, I am equally distrustful of Russia’s intent to keep nuclear weapons technology out of Iran’s hands. Russia will be in need of as much scrutiny as Iran.

Assuming this deal is brokered, it is essential that every drop of enriched uranium that crosses Iran’s border be accounted for. The problem is that, while Iran would not be doing the initial conversion of uranium into hexafluoride, nor would they be doing the subsequent conversion of hexafluoride into enriched uranium, that does not preclude them from further enriching the distributed product into weapons grade material.

There is an old Russian proverb oft quoted by President Reagan. “Trust, but verify.” When it comes to Iran, it is better not to trust at all. The deal being offered only delays the inevitable.


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