Iran undoubtedly pulled off a diplomatic coup with its announcement yesterday of a deal with Brazil and Turkey to store its low grade uranium. It is very hard for even the most ardent warmonger to claim that Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons, when that same uranium is in storage in Turkey.
But perhaps the most significant fact yesterday is one that does not bode well for Iran in the long term. It is that plainly the Russians were caught on the hop and struggling for a response. Russia has been Iran’s most powerful diplomatic protector, but in recent months the Obama diplomatic offensive to win Russia over on Iran appeared to have made dramatic headway. That the Iranians had not kept the Russians informed on the Brazil Turkey deal was a mistake – and led to eventual remarks by Medvedev that were not welcoming, and appeared graduated to the US response. Iran cannot afford to lose Russian support in the long term.
Under this deal, Iran is swapping some of its low grade for 20% uranium, and putting the balance in storage. In effect the whole lot goes to Turkey. It is worth noting that, according to the IAEA, all of Iran’s uranium is verified and accounted for. None has gone AWOL. This deal would leave Iran with nothing to make a nuclear bomb with. It is also worth noting – a point the western media never cover – that Iran has a perfectly legitimate requirement for 20% uranium. It has a reactor donated by the United States which produces medical isotopes and which runs on 20% uranium.
I should stress that I have no time at all for the murderous group of theocratic nutters who constitute the Iranian regime. For their own warped reasons, it suits them to heighten international tension around speculation that they may wish to produce a nuclear weapon. They are anything but straightforward, and anyone who believes that the welfare of the Iranian people is the primary concern of Iran’s governing elite is quite wrong.
But there is no indication that Iran has the ability for years to produce a nuclear weapon, and this arrangement makes that ever more plain. If any nation has a genune concern that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, this agreement to remove almost the entire stock of uranium from Iran can only be welcomed.
The failure to welcome this step by US and UK governments indicates that their actual agenda does not relate to Iran’s nuclear programme at all. And I still wait for a British minister to say something about Israel’s very real and very large stockpile of nuclear weapons.