Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have bogged down over the issue of Iran’s stockpiles of enriched nuclear materials. Evidently at one point in the negotiations, Iran was willing to have those stockpiles shipped outside the country to Russia, but now Iran has changed its mind.
The article reports:
“The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program, and we do not intend sending them abroad,” Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian negotiator and diplomat, was quoted as telling the country’s state-run press. “There is no question of sending the stocks abroad.”
A subsequent New York Times article claiming that discussions over the issue have hit a wall in the last day prompted the State Department to reveal that negotiations over the export of uranium have been stuck for quite some time.
“Contrary to the report in the New York Times, the issue of how Iran’s stockpile would be disposed of had not yet been decided in the negotiating room, even tentatively,” a senior State Department official told the Free Beacon on Monday. “There is no question that disposition of their stockpile is essential to ensuring the program is exclusively peaceful.”
The article also reports that the current roadblock represents a change in what Iran was willing to negotiate:
One source familiar with the talks told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration had been promising members of Congress that Iran would consent to export its uranium.
“Administration officials told lawmakers they’d get the Iranians to make a concession, then the Iranians refused to make that concession, and now the State Department is pretending they never expected anything anyway,” said the source.
“The White House briefed lawmakers and told them the Iranians were willing to ship out their stockpile,” the source said. “That was the whole justification for jacking up centrifuge numbers to 6,000. State Department spokespeople are basically gaslighting reporters by pretending otherwise.”
A second source in Europe familiar with the breakdown in discussions over the issue told the Free Beacon that Iran had previously expressed a willingness to export its uranium.
It is quite possible that Iran has concluded that President Obama is so desperate for an agreement that he will agree to anything. It is also quite possible that Iran figures that it will have enough time to complete its construction of at least one nuclear weapon before any sort of sanctions are placed on its economy. Neither option is particularly good. We need to remember that when Iran builds a nuclear weapon, peace in the Middle East will become highly unlikely. Iran without nuclear weapons has constantly taken actions to destabilize the region (and unfortunately to kill Americans in the region). We also need to remember that during these negotiations an American citizen, Pastor Saeed Abedini, has been kept in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith. It is really unfortunate that the current leadership of America does not even have enough power to get one citizen out of a foreign prison.