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Today, a group of Iran experts and non-proliferation experts are releasing a statement urging Western powers to use the recently-negotiated fuel swap deal as a first step towards a larger agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue and beyond.
The experts — which include Former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq David Kay and Former US Ambassador to the UN Thomas Pickering — do not endorse or reject the deal outright; rather, the statement urges the Unites States and its allies to use the proposal as an opportunity for further engagement with Iran.
Full text of the statement:
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June 1, 2010
On Monday, May 24, 2010, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran delivered a letter to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outlining Iran’s commitments to export 1200 kg of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) to Turkey in exchange for fuel assemblies to power the Tehran Research Reactor. This marked a significant concession from Iran’s previous position, which demanded the exchange take place in small batches, inside Iran’s borders, and simultaneous to the delivery of reactor fuel.
The political paralysis inside Iran that scuttled the fuel exchange proposal when it was first offered in October seems now to have subsided. The proposal currently being considered has the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader as well as centrists, reformists, and leaders of the Green Movement in Iran, making it more likely that Iran will abide by the terms of its commitments.
Left unresolved in the current proposal is the troubling matter of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium up to levels approaching 20%. Additionally, even after a successful fuel exchange, the need for Iran to fully satisfy the IAEA and accept a more rigorous inspections regime will remain, as will concerns about the size of its LEU stockpile. Notwithstanding these issues, Iran’s agreement to export a large portion of its LEU outside of its borders for up to a year is worthy of consideration. If enacted, this proposal would begin the process of addressing a major — but not the only — aspect of the strained relationship between Iran and the international community, and would represent a first step in halting Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapons capability.
We urge the so-called Vienna Group (Russia, France, the United States, and the IAEA) to seriously pursue this proposal as an opening for further diplomatic engagement with Iran on outstanding issues of concern. The permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) should take advantage of this opportunity as the first step in a broader dialogue that could include further confidence building measures, such as halting enrichment of uranium above 5%, as well as resolving regional security issues, protecting human rights in Iran, and other issues of mutual interest.
- Amb. Thomas Pickering, Former US Ambassador to the UN
- Dr. David Kay, Former Chief Weapons Inspector, Iraq
- Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director, Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative, New America Foundation
- Gen. Robert Gard, Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
- Dr. Jim Walsh, MIT
- Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
- Dr. Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii
- Dr. Juan Cole, University of Michigan
- Dr. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council