Arriving in Tehran, IAEA chief Amano Yukiya has expressed optimism over this week’s Baghdad summit, and it seems that the naysayers on the P5+1 talks with Iran are clamming up in the face of signs of productive negotiations.
Even Israel, who not so long ago was condemning the Baghdad summit on general principle, is hinting at some compromise, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak issuing a statement that Israel would allow Iran to continue civilian enrichment of uranium at 3.5 percent.
This is a dramatic shift from Israeli statements just days ago, in which they demanded an unconditional abandonment of all civilian enrichment. An amendment to the latest US military spending bill also made this demand a formal part of US law.
The vast majority of Iran’s enrichment is at 3.5 percent, needed for the Bushehr power plant. A smaller portion has been enriched to 20 percent, the level needed for the US-built Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). Indications are that Iran has already produced materially all fuel the TRR could use for decades, and a deal would reportedly include trading this uranium for fuel rods specifically for the reactor. Iran had offered to abandon its 20 percent enrichment repeatedly if they were able to acquire fuel for the reactor, which produces medical isotopes.