Meeting Iran's Nuclear Challenge

Meeting Iran’s Nuclear Challenge

  • 7 December 2004

Since Iran’s clandestine fuel cycle (enrichment and
reprocessing) programs were publicly revealed in August
2002, diplomatic efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons
ambitions have produced mixed results. After the Iraq War,
Iran felt vulnerable to US pressure and secretly approached
Washington to negotiate an agreement on the nuclear issue.
Iran began to renege on the October 2003 agreement,
resuming some aspects of its enrichment program, while
continuing to cooperate with the IAEA to resolve past
safeguards violations and implement IAEA inspections.
The EU-3 responded by again threatening to refer Iran to
the UN Security Council, and a new suspension agreement
was reached in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to
restore a full suspension of its enrichment and reprocessing
programs, pending efforts to negotiate a long-term
agreement to resolve the nuclear dispute. In return, the
EU-3 again agreed to block referral to the Security Council
as long as Iran continued to cooperate with the IAEA and
maintain the suspension. Prospects for the upcoming EU-3
negotiations with Iran are uncertain. On one hand, Iran
would clearly prefer to complete its enrichment program,
which would give it a nuclear weapons capability within a
few years. As a result, Tehran will resist European efforts to
obtain a permanent cessation of its fuel cycle program in
exchange for various political and economic inducements.
On the other hand, Tehran has been reluctant to risk a
confrontation with the great powers, all of which prefer to
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As a result,
Iran has been willing to cooperate with the IAEA and
‘temporarily’ suspend its enrichment program in order to
avoid referral to the Security Council.

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Tuesday 7 December 2004

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Tuesday 7 December 2004

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