According to a former top Iranian negotiator, in 2005 Iran offered a deal to the United States, France, Germany, and Great Britain that would have made it impossible for the country to build nuclear weapons. At that time Iran did not have the capability to fabricate fuel rods, therefore the offer included the plan to ship its uranium to an “agreed upon country” for enrichment in exchange for yellowcake, the raw material used to make fuel rods. In The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir (Brookings Institution Press, 2012), the leader of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in 2004 and 2005, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, relates that President George W. Bush’s administration “refused to countenance any Iranian enrichment capability, regardless of the circumstances.”
The French and German governments were prepared at the time to discuss the offer and open up negotiations, but Britain vetoed the proposal at the insistence of the United States. “They were ready to compromise but the US was an obstacle,” says Mousavian.
Once the uranium is fabricated into fuel rods it is practically impossible to re-convert for military purposes. The continuation of these negotiations could have headed off the political diplomatic crisis over the Iranian nuclear program seven years later, if not eliminated the threat of war and the strain of strict economic sanctions.
After the US and UK rejected the offer, the European Union stated that more time was required to consider the proposal, but Mousavian’s team learned later that the EU had no intention of revisiting the proposal.
Francois Nicoullaud, the French Ambassador to Iran, is quoted by Mousavian as saying that, “For the United States the enrichment in Iran is a red line the EU cannot cross.” British Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Peter Jenkins recalls that “The British objective was to eliminate entirely Iran’s enrichment capability,” at the urging of the United States. One proposal placed a ceiling on the number of centrifuges and the scale of production so that it remained well below the levels necessary for the production of weaponry. Then British and American teams ignored these negotiations to put pressure on Iran with the threat of referral to the United Nations Security Council. As Iranian presidential elections approached the talks were abandoned.
Now a visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, Mousavian was arrested by the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration on charges of “espionage” in April 2007.
Source: Gareth Porter, “Bush Blocked Iran Disarmament Deal,” ConsortiumNews.com, June 6, 2012, http://consortiumnews.com/2012/06/06/bush-blocked-iran-nuke-deal/
Student Researcher: Seamus O’Herlihy (Santa Rosa Junior College)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)
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