Jeffrey LewisIran FM: Regional Fuel Cycle = Rad

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki told the Conference on Disarmament last Thursday that Iran is open to a regional fuel cycle consortium:

In our view one possibility to resolve the issue could be establishment of regional consortiums on fuel cycle development with the participation of regional countries which have already developed fuel cycle programs at the national level and intend to develop further their program for civilian purposes. Such consortiums would be jointly operated by the regional states and the costs and benefits would be shared by the participants. Of course countries outside the region may also participate in such regional arrangements based on the modalities agreed between the parties. The facility would also be jointly owned by the sharing countries and the work could be divided based on the expertise of the participants. The regional consortiums would be placed under IAEA safeguards which would be yet another contribution to strengthening the IAEA safeguards and increasing the scope of international cooperation in the nuclear field.

Mottaki did not endorse the concept of “extraterrioriality”—the idea of enriching in another country such as Russia or having multinational control over a site in Iran—as some had expected. Overall, however, the mood in Geneva was reasonably optimistic after the speech.

When I got back to my hotel (the lovely Manotel Epsom with free wifi), I expected to see reports on this proposal in the news. Instead, I was greeted with this headline from AP: Iran Defiantly Rejects New U.N. Demands.

The story quoted Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, telling George Jahn the day before “it is impossible to go back to suspension.”

This raises an interesting question about how one reports these issues. Mottaki said the same thing, of course, but the tone among diplomats in Geneva was—to my impression—totally different.

On a different note, favorite three restaurants in Geneva, in no particular order … Café du Soleil (Place du Petit-Saconnex, Fondue), Café de Paris (rue du Mont-Blanc 26, Steak Frite), Le Comptoir (Rue de Richemond 9, Asian Fusion).