Iran Proposes Alternative Nuclear Deal

Waits to Finalize Draft Plan Pending Answer on Alternative

by Jason Ditz, October 23, 2009

Iran’s government has reportedly delayed its finalization of the draft nuclear deal, widely expected for today, until next week and has proposed an alternative plan.

The existing draft plan would involve Iran shipping much of its low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched to a higher level for use in a US-built reactor for creating medical isotopes.

Iran is proposing as an alternative simply buying the uranium it needs for the isotopes outright, without having to ship the existing uranium overseas at all. Though there appears to be no legal obstacle to this alternative plan it is unclear if the deal will be accepted, as Western nations had relished the opportunity to get most of Iran’s uranium stockpile in a third party nation.

It isn’t hard to see why Iran would prefer the alternative: the Bushehr reactor, a Russian-built power plant, is expected to be operational this year. All of the enriched uranium currently in Iran is enriched to the level needed for this reactor, and even if the medical isotopes are a higher priority losing three quarters of the stockpile would likely put the nascent energy generation program’s viability in doubt.

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