Nuclear negotiations with Iran have stalled due to Iranian demands that the country be allowed to produce enough nuclear fuel to operate its Bushehr reactor, according to Reuters.
The P5+1 — the five permanent member states of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, which are currently negotiating a solution to the Iran nuclear standoff — almost certainly won’t give in to this request. As one diplomat explained to Reuters, the uranium centrifuge capacity needed to fuel Bushehr “gets you a very short breakout time” to producing a nuclear warhead. If the Iranians are allowed to fuel Bushehr, then they would also be left with the ability to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear warhead fast enough to evade international monitors.
Iran is also looking to preserve a plutonium path to a bomb, according to the same Reuters report. Iranian negotiators are suggesting “technical” solutions to allay western concerns over a heavy water facility at Arak — but this is a far cry from the more comprehensive fix that P5+1 diplomats are looking for.
The apparent negotiating distance between Iran and the P5+1 is underscored by a couple of counterproductive recent developments outside the scope of current talks, which are limited to Iran’s nuclear program.
In mid-May, Iran unveiled a collection of advanced missiles and anti-aircraft batteries, along with an unmanned aerial vehicle reverse engineered from an American drone that crashed in Iran in December of 2011.
The current Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 signed in November of 2013 doesn’t address weapons development. So Iran is moving forward on more sophisticated systems, including missiles capable of evading ballistic missile defence batteries, and carrying a 6-meter containers as far as 300 kilometers, according to Jane’s Defence.
And last week, Iranian intelligence was caught using fake social media accounts — including one that assumed the identity of former American UN ambassador John Bolton — to “phish” prominent U.S. government and media figures.
Iran is developing an advanced arsenal and running intelligence operations against targets in the U.S., issues that are outside the purview of the current nuclear negotiating process. But even the areas up for discussion aren’t yielding much progress as a July 20th deadline for a final agreement approaches.
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