The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes it has found the formula that will settle the nuclear standoff between Iran and the international community.
Director and Nobel peace prize winner Mohammed El-Baradei leaves his post next month, and he hopes this will be his legacy. “I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalisation of relations between Iran and the international community,” he said in Vienna. El-Baradei’s project, which needs the approval of all the nations involved in talks, has initially been presented to four of them: the US, Iran, France and Russia. It requires Iran to send its low-level enriched uranium to Russia, where it will be boosted to the maximum allowed for civil use, – 19.75 percent – and then sent to France, which will transform it into nuclear piles for use in reactors. France will then return it to Iran, where it will be used in research facilities mainly for the production of medical isotopes. One of the sticking points until now had been France’s insistance that Iran exhaust its stockpile, or at least reduce it to a point where making fissile material for warheads would be impossible. That appears to have been taken on board. Iran will send 1200 kilos of its 1500 kilo stockpile to Russia for enrichment. The 300 kilos left in Iran is way below the 2000 kilos needed to make a bomb, and Iran cannot currently enrich it to the 90 percent weapons-grade level in any case. The ball is now firmly in the court of the governments concerned.