Iran May Rethink Uranium Enrichment for Supply Guarantees

Iran has repeatedly vowed to continue its uranium enrichment program, but in a sign that they may be softening on that position, chief delegate to the IAEA Ali Ashgar Soltanleh suggested that Iran would “reconsider the position” if there were a “legally-binding internationally recognized instrument for assurance of supply.”

Iran’s enrichment program has led to United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Much has been made of the fear that Iran might divert the uranium, intended for a Russian-built nuclear power plant on the Persian Gulf, toward a nuclear weapons program. Such a move would require considerably more-highly enriched uranium than what is presently being produced, and the IAEA has certified that none of the material has been diverted to weapons purposes.

Still, the United States sees no reason for the nation to do any of its own enrichment. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Dale Klein insists that there is ample supply on the global market which Iran could easily buy instead of producing itself. Iran has been reluctant, however, given the ever more onerous trade restrictions placed upon it, to rely on a steady flow of foreign supply for an important source of supply for their nation’s growing energy needs. President Bush also endorsed an idea to have Russia supply the uranium if it meant Iran would halt its own program.

But a supply guarantee deal would face several UN stumbling blocks, making it unlikely to happen in the near term. Chief among those is the disputed IAEA investigation into alleged activities wholly unrelated to its enrichment program. The IAEA has cited photos and documents from an allegedly “stolen” laptop and attempted to press Iran to open other sites to investigation. Iran has rebuffed the demand, insisting it is unreasonable and would require them to disclose classified information about their conventional arsenal.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.