The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, confirmed last week that Iran had effectively eliminated that “second stage” of uranium enrichment, as required by the interim deal negotiated between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. And news reports over the weekend hinted that a second path to the bomb may be blocked as well. . . .In other words, the much derided interim agreement that Iran reached with the US and others seems to be working, and Iran really seems to be backing away from its bomb program. There is still a lot that could go wrong, and much of that depends on the murky politics of Iran's ruling clique. After all, Supreme Leader Khamenei has said several times that nuclear weapons are "un-Islamic" even while Iran seemed to be pursuing them with gusto, so there must be a lot to argue about even within the government.
When Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran in June 2013, he stopped expanding Iran’s uranium enrichment capability. The interim deal the U.S. and other nations secured with Iran last November rolled it back, directly addressing Netanyahu’s main fear. Iran agreed not only to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, but to get rid of all it had made.
That goal has now been effectively reached. The IAEA report last week confirms that Iran cut its stock of medium enriched uranium by three-quarters. It has completely diluted half its stock down to low enriched uranium, and it has converted half of the remaining amount into reactor fuel, all ahead of schedule. It would be extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming to reverse these processes.
If the government has changed its mind, I wonder why? Because of sanctions and isolation, or because many mullahs have decided that pushing ahead would lead to war? Was it the extended hand or the dagger behind our backs?