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Critical Questions from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Was Iran's recent offer to send its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey an effort to avoid new sanctions?

On May 17, Iran signed a deal with Brazil and Turkey to send 1,200 kilograms (kg) of stockpiled low-enriched uranium to Turkey. In the event that the United States, Russia, France, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agree to provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor within a year, Iran would deposit the 1,200 kg within a month. The deal, which is similar to one scuttled in October 2009, was in all likelihood designed to forestall a new round of sanctions. In this regard, it doesn't appear to have worked.

Is the carrot Iran offered a solid deal?

This appears to be a confidence-building measure, but not a prelude to serious substantive negotiations. Iran has made other such offers, including one in December 2009 to place 400 kg of LEU on the island of Kish. Regardless, Iran's other actions indicate it is not yet willing to comply with UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. It continues to enrich uranium, at even higher levels, and continues to build and improve on its centrifuge capacity. What's more, the deal contains a few escape clauses for Iran. The shipment of LEU would take place only if the United States, Russia, France, and the IAEA agree to Iran's terms, and Turkey would have to return the LEU if Iran was not satisfied with the outcome. Further, the amount Iran is offering to ship now represents just half of its stockpile, rather than almost all of it.

Are the sticks (sanctions) under discussion a deterrent to Iran?

The Obama administration characterized the goals of the latest draft UNSC resolution, agreed to by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council (China, Russia, United States, UK, and France) and Germany, as increasing the cost to Iran and its leadership and persuading them that it is in their interest to resolve concerns about Iran's nuclear program peacefully. The sanctions will include some new conventional arms restrictions (although not defensive systems), a system of cargo inspections similar to that passed for North Korea (UNSCR 1874), and new provisions to restrict licensing of Iranian banks overseas. Other items include establishing a UN panel for the first time to monitor sanctions implementation, restricting Iranian investment overseas in any WMD-related capabilities, and restricting insurance and reinsurance of Iranian air and ship cargo vessels. Although the draft resolution contains some new and innovative measures, Iran's decision to halt its nuclear program will not be based on sanctions alone. Rather, sanctions are just one part of an entire array of measures deployed to slow Iran's burgeoning nuclear capabilities and speed up a political decision to halt the program.