Good News On Iran?

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In his new blog, Julian Borger of The Guardian has an intriguing take on today’s talks about Iran’s nuclear program. From his perspective, there’s potential good news:

The dust is settling in the wake of the Geneva meeting, and it seems to have been a lot more productive than expected. Mohamed ElBaradei will be in Tehran on Saturday to nail down an inspection date for the newly-revealed Qom enrichment plant. There will also be another meeting of the E3+3 group with Iran before the end of October to continue negotiations on Iran’s uranium enrichment programme.

Most importantly, however, there is an “agreement in principle” that Iran will send out a significant chunk of its low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for further enriching and then to France, to be processed into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), for making medical isotopes.

If all this happens – and there will be a meeting on the details between Iran, France and Russia at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on October 18 – then a lot of the uranium the world is currently worrying about would be temporarily taken out of the equation. Western officials here say that to restock the TRR, Iran would have to send out up to 1200 kg of LEU. That’s about three-quarters of what they’ve got, and it would be out of the country for a year. When it came back it would be in the form of fuel rods, so it could not be turned into weapons grade material in a quick breakout scenario.

The deal was apparently hatched by the Americans and Russians over the past month, and it could be a masterful means of lowering tensions. It would not infringe what Iran argues is its sovereign right to a fully-fledged nuclear programme, so face would be saved. But it takes off the table, for the time being, the main source of immediate anxiety – the uranium stockpile.

Of course anxiety is only relieved to the degree that you believe that there are no other Qoms hidden up Iranian sleeves. That is a question of confidence to be addressed by a new deal with the IAEA. And Iran would continue to enrich, even under freeze-for-freeze. But time will have been bought.

Of course, the deal could easily unravel on October 18, when the talk turns to details, but it does represent a cheap way for Tehran to achieve what it says it wants to achieve – civilian applications of nuclear technology.

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

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