The 2,600 Pound Elephant in the Room

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Has Iran finally relented on its nuclear program? The New York Times David Sanger notes that even though Iran has agreed to a draft proposal to export its uranium, there's still a major potential loop hole:

The key to the agreement, if it works, would be in the timing of the shipments — a detail officials were not discussing in Vienna in the hours after the announcement. If Iran actually sends the full 2,600 pounds of low-enriched uranium at issue to Russia in a single shipment, it would have too little fuel on hand to build a nuclear weapon for roughly a year, according to the agency’s experts. But if the fuel leaves Iran in batches, the experts warn, Iran would have the ability to replace it almost as quickly as it leaves the country.

If Iran does indeed ship the whole 2,600 pounds at once, I think we see the contours of the "least worst" outcome, where diplomacy can gum up the works a bit in Iran. Ultimately, Iran can still cheat and wiggle its way toward a bomb but - like North Korea during the 1990s Agreed Framework - they'll have to work their way there along a more torturous path. Not ideal, but with an Iranian population clearly hostile to its current regime, any play for time is valuable.

(AP Photos)

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