A potential victory for diplomacy is brewing in Vienna. After initial reports about Iranian nuclear talks were termed “slow,” today negotiators have reached a draft deal on shipping Iran’s nuclear enrichment to Russia for processing.
Under the draft deal, most of Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium would be shipped out of the country for processing into fuel to make medical isotopes in a research reactor in Tehran.
Negotiators were unable to clinch a final agreement after more than two days of talks in the Austrian capital, apparently because the Iranian delegation, led by the ambassador to Vienna, did not have the authority to sign a far-reaching deal about which there was no consensus in Tehran.
Announcing the draft deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Mohamed ElBaradei, said it represented a balanced approach, offering to provide Iran with fuel for making medical isotopes, while building international confidence in Iran’s intentions by shipping much of its enriched uranium out of the country.
He said the document would now be sent to the capitals of the negotiating parties – Iran, the US, Russia and France – “for final approval” by Friday.
If the Vienna talks actually produce a deal this week, it would represent a major step forward for the Obama theory of diplomacy and negotiation over belligerence and militarism. It would lengthen considerably the timeline for Iran to potentially gather enough fuel for a nuclear device, though they have insisted (and official US intelligence still agrees) that they are not looking to build a weapon. By any measure, this would be a concrete victory, and hopefully would stall out the sanctions packages which even the Iranian opposition has warned against.