Containing the Iranian Nuclear Crisis: The Useful Precedent of a Fuel Swap

International Institute for Strategis Studies - London,Mark Fitzpatrick

The nuclear fuel swap that was proposed by the USA in October 2009, accepted by Iran, then rejected, and finally accepted again under conditions rejected by the West, was never a solution to the nuclear crisis.

Tangential to the main issues, the deal offered only a temporary respite from the threat posed by Iran’s sensitive nuclear programs. Intended as a confidence- building measure, the deal has only sown more suspicion, and the attempt in May 2010 by Brazil and Turkey to renew the agreement served to widen the circle of distrust. Yet the precedent of sending Iranian enriched uranium out of the country and thereby reducing its stockpile still holds promise. The question is whether or not Iran is determined to have a nuclear- weapons capability. Even if it is, containment and deterrence policies may help to keep that capability latent, but unrestricted growth of Iran’s enrichment program could still trigger military action.

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