The New Deal on Iranian Nukes

Iran's uranium conversion program will be acceptable to the international community, and uranium enrichment need only be suspended for now – if Iran agrees to come to the table.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 5:05 PM

A new compromise package was offered to Iran by the international community on Tuesday in the hopes of holding off further progress in Tehran’s nuclear development program.

If the International Atomic Energy Agency determines ”with confidence” that Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful and intended for domestic application only, the new incentive package also offered the possibility that uranium enrichment will be allowed.

Uranium conversion is a precursor to uranium enrichment, a process used in the development of nuclear weapons as well as domestic applications. Iran has repeatedly stood firm on its commitment to continue its uranium enrichment program despite the threat of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.

The United States has until now been in the forefront of the demand for Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program as a pre-condition for negotiations on the issue. Despite the sabre-rattling, however, the international community has agreed to the new compromise and will allow Iran to carry out uranium conversion if it agrees to multinational talks.

The offer was made by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Negotiations would focus on the international prohibition against the development of nuclear arms, and Iran’s unwillingness to comply with that law.

“We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if they restore confidence, that this Iranian regime can have enrichment at home,” said a U.S. official. “Iran always spurned previous offers as an attempt to keep it from exercising its rights to enrich. Now that is explicitly not the case."

Iran’s response to the deal was wary, citing "positive steps" but also "ambiguities." U.S. President George W. Bush was supportive of the reaction, saying he preferred to resolve the issue with diplomacy. However, he cautioned, “We will see if the Iranians take our offer seriously. The choice is theirs to make.”