Joshua PollackWhy Iran Sanctions, Diplomacy Are Hard

My latest column in the Bulletin is all about Iran sanctions: what they’re good for and why they’re so hard to get (not necessarily in that order). Go on, go read it; I’ll bet you’ll never guess what Roswell Gilpatric & Co. have to do with the story.

But to make a long story short, the question of a nuclear-armed Iran just isn’t so close to home for the Russians and the Chinese, compared to the West. That’s why we’ve had moments like this one.

Evidence for this conclusion can be found not only in the statements and actions of leaders, but also in public opinion, which I think provides a decent approximation of elite perceptions of the outside world in most countries, even non-democratic ones.

Surveys conducted in the spring of 2007 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed 93% of Americans opposing the idea of Iran with nuclear weapons, alongside 80% of Russians and 69% of Chinese. Even more strikingly, 59% of Americans saw a nuclear-armed Iran as a “very serious” threat to their own country, compared to just 34% of Russians and 15% of Chinese. Their hearts just aren’t in it.

Still, we’re pretty close to a fourth round of sanctions now. Which is probably why the Iranians and the Russians have started snarling at each other.

(More about the surveys: the Pewsters found that a gulf separates the perceptions of most Westerners, Sunni Arabs, Christian Arabs, and Israelis — all of whom tend to worry about Iran’s nuclear-weapons potential — from those of Asian and African Muslims, who tend to be supportive. Pakistanis are downright enthusiastic. Shi’ite Arabs and Palestinians also appear very comfortable with the idea of an Iranian bomb.)

A Letter Thrown Over the Transom

But that’s just an interesting aside. What I want to know is, can we do sanctions and diplomacy with Iran at the same time? Or must diplomacy wait until later?

The view of the Obama administration, expressed again recently in a conference call with three Senior Administration Officials, is that you can’t do nuclear diplomacy with Iran if the Iranians won’t sit down and talk to you about their nuclear program. This has a certain elegance and simplicity.

But then there’s the view of the Brazilians and Turks, which is, if the Iranians can be induced to negotiate even at a great remove from their negotiating partners, that ought to be good enough, especially if the results line up with the terms expressed by President Obama in an April 20 letter to Brazilian President Lula — which was subsequently leaked to a Brazilian publication. Which must be one of the most astonishing acts of international diplomatic petulance of our times. But that’s neither here nor there.

(On that conference call last week, Senior Official Number Two was reduced to a somewhat convoluted explanation of why the April 20 letter failed to mention the importance of not enriching uranium to nearly 20% if you have no reason to. If he’d been thinking on his feet, perhaps he would have recalled that this point was mentioned in the Feb. 12 letter from France, Russia, and the United States to the IAEA.)

Are the Brazilians right? Should the U.S. and its partners just swallow hard and take the offer as it is?

The Two-Track Policy We Have

Don Rumsfeld once told a bellyacher, “As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” So it is, perhaps, with two-track policies. As our friend A2 points out, the deal may not do much concretely, but it sets useful precedents, and nothing in it actually leaves us worse off. So why not pass the sanctions resolution and immediately announce that we’re taking the Iranians up on their version of the deal? If the Iranians back out, then they back out.

That’s been the conclusion of many a wonk this week: George Perkovich, for one. And then there’s an odd-bedfellows list that includes several notable nonproliferation wonks, including ACW’s own Jeff Lewis. (They’re for the taking up the Zombie Fuel Swap, but don’t mention the sanctions resolution one way or the other.)

This is not an easy call. Through their IAEA ambassador, the Iranians have finally clarified their position on unnecessary enrichment to nearly 20%, and their position is now that it’s necessary. (Contrast this with their position in February.) It appears from the latest IAEA report that they plan to build out six cascades at PFEP for this purpose.

Daryl Kimball, for one, thinks we need to nail down the 20% business, much as Barzashka and Oelrich were thinking back in April. But this will be hard to do without actual negotiations. And at this point, the Iranians are insisting on negotiating by press conference only. It’s probably safe to conclude that the Brazilian channel has broken down. Irreconcilable differences, you might say.

Perhaps, once the next Security Council Resolution has been safely passed, it will be time to take what there is to take, and then see if it leads anywhere.


  1. Lysander (History)

    You could also accept Iran’s right to enrichment in exchange for implementing and ratifying the additional protocol. If the issue were simply ensuring Iran wasn’t building nukes, that would do it. But if the west wants something else but doesn’t want to come out an say it, well then…

    At any rate, 2-3 years from now you will see that that was the best deal you could have gotten.

  2. FSB

    No matter how uncomfortable anyone in the West is with Iran’s enrichment — necessary or not (in your eyes) — under Article IV Iran has a right to enrich. As several other people have said before: you can try to make Iran comply with its obligations but it is illicit to force it to stop enrichment altogether.

    In fact, Article IV obliges NWS to help NNWS with knowledge and machinery on their soil:

    Article IV: 1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

    2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

    The ZFS is already a huge concession by Iran.

  3. Josh (History)

    There will be a delay in moderating comments.

  4. abcd (History)

    “Perhaps, once the next Security Council Resolution has been safely passed, it will be time to take what there is to take, and then see if it leads anywhere.”

    What would be the harm in the P5+1 probing Iran’s sincerity to implement the Brazil-Turkey take on the fuel swap deal and holding the recently agreed package of sanctions in reserve in case Iran backs out of it? This would give Iran the incentive to fulfill the terms of the agreement and provide a clear consequence for failure to do so, thus putting the onus on Iran. (Given intra-SC politics right now, this may happen inadvertently.)

    Doing the reverse – sanctioning Iran, then waiting to see if they’ll ship their LEU to Turkey and entrust Russia/France to complete their end of the deal – isn’t likely to convince Tehran that the deal is in their interest if they will be punished either way. Three rounds of sanctions have yet to significantly alter Iran’s thinking. I can’t imagine a fourth will, either.

  5. Bahram Chubak (History)

    Hi Josh. Considering the question of whether one should negotiate now or postpone negotiations, I think the answer depends on what the West’s goal is or ought to be.

    If the goal is to have Iran implement the Additional Protocols, then I think this can be achieved now through negotiations and the offering of substantial incentives. Iranian officials in the past showed willingness to move towards such a solution provided Iran is not deprived of the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

    However, if the goal is to have Iran stop enrichment altogether, it is hard to imagine that this can be achieved through either sanctions or negotiations.

    Here, the domestic US situation becomes relevant. Allow me to explain. First, note that the Israeli lobby is interested in sanctions on Iran quite independently of Iran’s nuclear program. That is, in an ideal world (for Israel), Iran will be subjected to sanctions regardless.

    Now, imagine Iran agrees to ratify and implement the AP but not to halt civilian enrichment. Because the Israeli lobby is interested in sanctions regardless, it is going to declare this solution unsatisfactory. It is going to be difficult for the administration to say ‘no’ to the Israeli lobby, although obviously this could happen.

    All this suggests that Iran and the US are unlikely to be able to meet each other half way any time soon.

  6. Rwendland (History)

    The other thing from the latest IAEA report is that Iran indicated in March it was preparing for fabricating TRR fuel itself:

    24. In a letter dated 17 March 2010, Iran informed the Agency that, “in connection with nuclear fuel fabrication for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), part of… [UCF] is allocated for this purpose, and some structural modifications will be started in near future”. In a letter dated 28 April 2010, Iran provided additional information regarding R&D activities to be conducted at UCF related to the conversion of depleted UF6 to depleted U3O8. According to Iran, the results of these conversion R&D activities will be used, inter alia, to prepare for the fabrication of fuel for the TRR.

    I suspect that, as any R&D org would do, now they have got started on this track there will be considerable internal inertia to continue on the R&D path.

    The west should simply have supplied this TRR fuel when requested – it is outside the scope of the UNSC resolution I believe anyway, not being heavy water reactor related.

    I’m intrigued why Argentina (a G-15 member like Brazil & Turkey) hasn’t gotten involved, as they supplied the last batch of fuel. Has Argentina lost the capability to manufacture this fuel, or have they been warned off getting involved?

  7. China Hand (History)

    I would posit that the lower level of concern about potential Iranian nukes in China and Russia is not necessarily that “they don’t care”; it’s that they look at the issue differently.

    The U.S. has adopted the framing of “weapon of mass destruction” to assert that nuclear weapons (at least in somebody else’s hands) are dangerous, destabilizing, and bad.

    China and Russia, on the other hand, both lost tens of millions of people in WWII in a conventional war. The war did not go better for them just because they (or their enemies, for that matter) didn’t have nuclear weapons. Quite the opposite, probably. Nuclear weapons are a pretty good force equalizer and an easily-calibrated deterrent. I think that’s why Israel likes them, too.

    So I think China and Russia are more interested in role of nuclear weapons in deterrence and strategic and tactical parity.

    These are issues that we, with an overwhelming conventional and nuclear advantage, “don’t care about”, maybe in part because we like the disparity equation the way it is.

    Perhaps one reason that Iran diplomacy is so hard is because the China and Russia see don’t see eye to eye with us on the idea that it is an absolute security imperative to ensure that Iran is stripped of its nuclear weapons capability, while decoupling that effort from the problem of strategic parity in the Middle East.

    ACW readers don’t need to be reminded that China proliferated to Pakistan so Pakistan could approach parity with India; and it could be argued that this was, on balance, not a bad thing.

  8. blowback (History)

    Perhaps, once the next Security Council Resolution has been safely passed, it will be time to take what there is to take, and then see if it leads anywhere.

    By then it will be too late. The Iranians have said (I believe) that if the next Security Council resolution is passed, then the LEU option is off the table.

    As for enrichment to <20%, Iran has invested wealth in that so it now becomes another bargaining chip or “fact on the ground” that it may be possible to negotiate away but the Iranians won’t give it away free.

    I wonder if Colonel John Boyd is turning in his grave when he sees just how ineptly Washington is handling its dealings with Tehran. I never thought it possible but Tehran is probably operating a tighter OODA loop than Washington but that is because there is no loop in Washington’s planning.

  9. Josh (History)

    Lysander and Bahram have raised the idea of trading acceptance of enrichment (I presume to 5%) for the ratification and implementation of the Additional Protocol. In my opinion, this would be an idea worth exploring; heading off a clandestine program is more important than what happens at Natanz, although the AP isn’t a panacea.

    The main problem is that this scenario requires re-opening negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program. And Iran is currently not willing to do that. Nor is it entirely clear that the Iranians would find this arrangement attractive.


    Art. IV is ambiguously phrased and open to multiple interpretations. But the point of the Security Council resolutions is not about rights in any case; it’s about noncompliance and enforcement. I note that the Consensus Final Statement of the 2010 NPT RevCon reaffirmed, unanimously and without reservation, the competence of the IAEA to make determinations about compliance, and the power of the UN to take enforcement actions in response to those determinations. (See paragraphs 10 and 11.) This must have been a bitter pill for the Iranian delegation to swallow, and it comes as no surprise that Iran’s IAEA ambassador walked away from these affirmations more or less overnight.


    This is a tactical problem that falls under the category of “two-level games.” Not proceeding with the sanctions resolution would almost certainly be followed by a unilateral sanctions vote passing Congress by a veto-proof majority. This would break the unity of the P5+1 and do a lot more to set back the prospects for diplomacy than the UN sanctions resolution. (The prospects are admittedly not in good shape to start with.) At least, that’s my read of it.

    China Hand:

    Russia and China have considerably different views of nuclear weapons from each other. And their views on nuclear proliferation have evolved considerably over the last couple of decades. Especially in China.

    But perhaps, at some level, we do not disagree, and you are just saying what I already said in different words: stopping Iran from going nuclear isn’t their highest priority. That’s quite different from saying that they don’t care.

    Rwendland —

    Yes, in hindsight it might have been better just to supply the fuel without strings attached. But then, it’s not certain that the Iranians would have accepted that idea, either. Not if you think the point was to create a rationale for enriching to higher levels. Certainly, the Iranians have raised a number of objections to foreign fuel supply in the past.

    None of which is to say that I’m confident you’re wrong. Water under the bridge, in any case.


    But the Iranians have just asserted, once again, that it isn’t possible to negotiate away the 20% enrichment. And they aren’t even willing to negotiate. That’s the point; we are faced with a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

    A bargaining chip that one cannot or will not bargain away isn’t a bargaining chip at all.

  10. jeannick

    I’m still astonished at the refusal to give Iran then and there the 20% recharge for the Tehran medical reactor .
    beside the small detail that it was perfectly legal , it would have demonstrated the good faith of the Obama administration and removed any excuse for proceeding to 20% enrichment
    As things stand now , the new U.S. administration has demonstrated the emptiness of its open hand discourse.
    its intentions to bend legal NPT supply requirements are now plain as is its wish to paint Tehran in dark hues while hinting at military options , which frankly are not convincing at all .
    Now the mullahs can wrap themselves in the non aligned cloak of righteousness and enrich to their heart content
    after all … it’s to save the children !
    It only make sense if there is an overriding desire by Washington to raise the tension ,the initial offer was a joke , no Iranian with any memory would have believed for one second their Uranium would have come back .
    At least the Brazilian /Turkish offer was a way out , now the bar has been raised from 5% to 20% for no gain I can discern .
    Maybe I’m wrong and it make sense , else it’s simply diplomacy by auto-pilot .

  11. Alan (History)

    The Chinese did welcome the Tripartite deal of course. Sanctions seem to me to depend on whether 20% enrichment bothers the Chinese. Judging by the recent Iran/Russia spat, the Russians have had enough of Iranian brinkmanship. Have the Chinese? If they have, then Iran may prove more pliable. I think Chinese and Russian concerns are less nuclear, more stability. They’re not interested in Iran upsetting the international economic applecart by pushing the envelope so far that extreme measures are taken against them. It’s OK to make the US squirm a bit, but it’s not OK to overdo it. There has to be an obvious exit route for the US, and the Chinese won’t want it closed off.

    It seems at least possible that a sanctions vote will be delayed to see whether the LEU shows up in Turkey within the specified month. There is only a couple of weeks of that month left anyway.

  12. FSB

    first thank you for publishing the comment by Bahram Chubak — there is little more to be said on the subject.

    However, you have not addressed the point — and several others before — have raised: it may be OK for the UNSC to pressure Iran into compliance, but not to go to zero enrichment — there is no legal basis for that in the NPT. Do you disagree?

  13. Andrew


    I must misunderstand you when you say “But the Iranians have just asserted, once again, that it isn’t possible to negotiate away the 20% enrichment. And they aren’t even willing to negotiate. That’s the point; we are faced with a take-it-or-leave-it offer.”

    How do you reconcile that with:

    Unless the uranium exchange deal moves forward ‘definitely we’ll continue our production of 20 percent,’ Mottaki said. However, ‘if we do not need the 20 percent we won’t move in that direction‘ (Agence France-Presse II/Yahoo!News, June 2).

    Iran is enriching nuclear material to higher levels as a backup plan because it fears it will not receive foreign fuel for a medical research reactor, Tehran’s envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Wednesday. ‘When we don’t need 20 percent uranium, we will not produce it,‘ he said.

    The almost consistent message out of Iran is that they will continue 20% enrichment until they recieve fuel/they have an internationally and legally guaranteed source of it which they have confidence in. If the U.S. wanted to end 20% enrichment, it would publicly offer to expedite the process or arrange the sale of the medical fuel. The worst-case scenario would be no cost and Iran being embarassed in front of NAM, OIC, etc.

    On the other hand, what is the expected effect of sanctions on Iran’s 20% enrichment?

  14. Andrew

    For any who are interested, Mohamed ElBaradei has said the following:

    “ I have been in contact with the Brazilians and the Turks even after I left. I believe it’s quite a good agreement. I don’t know all the details. It depends on whether you want to see the glass as half full or half empty. I have been always saying that the only way to resolve the Iranian issue is to build trust. Moving 1,200, half, or at least more than half of the Iranian nuclear material out of Iran is a confidence-building measure; it would defuse the crisis and enable the US and the West [to gain] the space to negotiate. So, I hope that it would be perceived as a win-win situation. If we see — what I have been reading the last couple of days — that this is an “empty dressing,” I think it is a wrong approach. I think there is no other way but to engage Iran, negotiate with Iran, and we have been waiting for this deal as a precursor for a full-scope negotiation. That is the only way to go in my view.

    We lost six years of failed policy frankly vis-à-vis Iran. And it’s about time now to understand that the Iranian issue is not going to be resolved except, until and unless we sit with the Iranians and try to find a fair and equitable solution.”

    ElBaradei was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency from December 1997 to November 2009, and was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He has been vocal in efforts for multinational and nondiscriminatory control of the nuclear fuel cycle.

  15. blowback (History)

    Josh – I have seen plenty of articles in the news that state that Iran has said it will continue with 20% enrichment and that ending enrichment to 20% was not part of the Brazil-Turkey agreement, but I have seen none that say that 20% enrichment is not negotiable. Can you provide any links?

  16. Josh (History)


    Whatever one might conclude in hindsight about the merits of the LEU-for-TRR-fuel concept, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Iranian negotiator at Vienna (Saeed Jalili, if memory serves) originally accepted it, and now here they are again, embracing another version of it. So, whether it was the right or wrong thing to do, it cannot have been an utterly misguided idea to have taken a chance on linking Iran’s LEU with fuel for the TRR. A judgment call, let’s say. Even now, I can’t entirely say what I think of it: Clever? Too clever?


    You never really know with the Chinese, but that the draft resolution has gotten this far with their support, however reluctant, suggests that it is on track.

    Above, “abcd” and I had an exchange about whether it makes sense at all to press ahead with sanctions at this point; why not just try the Zombie Fuel Swap and see where it leads? (Mohamed ElBaradei made the same point to Jornal do Brasil in a recent interview, which Andrew quotes above.)

    My answer, above, was that the failure of the Security Council to act will lead Congress to abandon its restraint on this issue, and that will be both worse for future prospects of a diplomatic resolution and less effective than UN sanctions. In both cases, that’s because it won’t reflect the will of the international community.

    But that’s just my own read of it; nobody “in the know” has told me anything. Other things could be motivating President Obama, President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Cameron, and Chancellor Merkel to press ahead with the sanctions vote. One thing could simply be a judgment that a great deal of pulling and hauling has been necessary to get to the draft resolution, and the reanimated version of ZFS just isn’t worth as much as it once was, certainly not enough to jeopardize the momentum carefully rebuilt since 2008 for strengthening sanctions.

    In other words, taking up the ZFS could produce very little of value, but cause the Chinese to balk at returning to the sanctions track afterward. That’s why I mention all this here.


    I’m not a lawyer or any kind of expert on international law, so I tend to accept the prevailing view, which is that the Security Council has the power to address threats to the peace under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, and a serious and sustained case of NPT safeguards noncompliance is certainly that. In other words, I can’t tell you anything original about the legalities; try Persbo.

    Certainly, though, if the Security Council lacked that power, the NPT would be toothless. At a purely pragmatic level — note that this is not a legal analysis — it strikes me as dangerous to claim that the international community has no real authority to enforce a treaty so central to international security through the mechanisms of the UN; that just opens the door to the use of force.


    I do not share your interpretation of Iranian statements about when they will stop enriching to nearly 20%. They are making no assurances that they will stop when they receive the fuel.

    Now, as stated in the post, I’ve concluded that it’s probably worth accepting their offer anyway. But it’s not at all reassuring that they’ve de-linked re-enrichment from the near-future needs of the TRR. This step is almost certainly why the collective judgment of the Vienna Group (Russia, France, and the U.S.) appears to be that it’s not worth taking up in this form.


    You ask a good question. I may have put it too starkly. The Iranians have declined to return to Vienna or Geneva to discuss their nuclear program as agreed last October. Their unwillingness to negotiate doesn’t concern the 20% issue specifically — it’s a blanket unwillingness. Thus the awkward process involving the Brazilians and Turks.

    Having said that, there is, in my view, a door-crack of an opening to discuss the issue, since the Iranians have signaled a willingness to start talking again with the Vienna Group in the context of ironing out the details of the ZFS, if the Vienna Group first accepts Iran’s terms. Read a certain way, that could imply a willingness to reopen the issue behind closed doors.

    Here is the key portion of the letter transmitted by the Iranians to the IAEA in fulfillment of the joint statement with Brazil and Turkey:

    “In return, we expect the Agency, also in accordance with paragraph 6 of this declaration, to notify the Vienna Group (USA, Russia, France and the IAEA) of its content, and consequently inform us of the Group’s positive response. “Such action, according to this declaration, will pave the wave to commence negotiation for elaboration on further details of the exchange leading to conclusion of a written agreement and as well as making proper arrangements between Iran and the Vienna Group. “We look forward to receive Your Excellency’s response in an expedited way.

    That may not look very promising to Paris, Moscow, and Washington, but we here might consider it another reason to give it a try.

  17. Andrew


    With the Iranians saying ‘if we do not need the 20 percent we won’t move in that direction (June 2)’ and ‘when we don’t need 20 percent uranium, we will not produce it’ (June 2) it seems like quite a reach to blanketly conclude “that it isn’t possible to negotiate away the 20% enrichment”.


    Argentina has strained relations with Iran since the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires which occurred on July 18, 1994. Argentina accused Iran of directing the bombing and Hezbollah of carrying it out, possibly in retaliation to Argentina’s suspension (due to US pressure) of a nuclear technology transfer contract it is argued. In turn, Hezbollah has denied responsibility and Iran has condemned the attack and called for punishment of those responsible. Argentineans recently commemorated the anniversary, and investigations are still ongoing sixteen years later.

  18. Josh (History)


    You have half a point there. See my remarks on this question above, addressed to “Blowback.”

    Concerning the other half, I would merely observe that media statements aren’t negotiations. The unwillingness of one of the parties (i.e., Iran) to get into a room with the other parties to discuss the issues is the obstacle to negotiations. But it’s my hope that if the Vienna Group were to signal interest in the proposal Iran has now transmitted to the IAEA, the Iranians would follow through on their pledge to meet to iron out the details. “Details” ought to include the 20% issue.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think this is likely to happen at this point, in large part because of the mistrust created by Iran’s reversal on the 20% question.

  19. bradley laing (History)

    —from “Yahoo Most Popular,” 12:03 AM

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she thinks Iran will “pull some stunt” in the next few days because it expects further United Nations sanctions over its nuclear program

  20. Anon (History)

    As regards Brazil releasing Obama’s letter, I think it is not a case of “petulance”, as you say. Put yourself in place of the Brazilian Government for a moment: it received the letter and abode by its terms. The US simply changed the terms of reference without informing either Brazil or Turkey, thereby damaging their own credibility in what is undoubtedly a high-risk foreign policy initiative.
    Besides, the Brazilian Government was taking quite a lot of flak from its own press – which is rabidly anti-government BTW- for dealing with Iran. It probably thought some or a lot of it originated in the US Embassy, so releasing the letter would still the uproar -which, incidentally, it did to a considerable extent.
    No one likes to be made a fool of when playing fair.

  21. hass (History)

    If public opinion surveys reflect elite opinion even in non-democratic states, then what have you to say about public opinion surveys of Iranian opinion which massively supports their nuclear program but not building nukes? And how is Iran the party who is “unwilling to discuss the issues” when any negotiation with Iran has been (and continues to be) explicitly conditioned on Iran agreeing to giving up enrichment first? Finally, note that the UNSC’s demands on Iran are NOT enforcing the NPT treaty but are going well beyond it by demanding that Iran sign the AP and give up enrichment — quite contrary to the NPT both in letter and spirit as well as general principles of international law. You can’t just make up “threats to world security” as a justification to get your way.

  22. hass (History)

    Incidentally, note that the Iranians only resorted to enriching to 20% when their efforts to purchase fuel for the TRR was blocked. There was no need for that — the TRR and the fuel are both well safeguarded and pose no proliferation threat. However the US tried to strong-arm Iran even on that point, which resulted in not only proving their point that they can’t rely on external promises of fuel and so need their own enrichment program, but also creating another “fact on the ground” and bargaining chip for them. Wow. Great job.

  23. Andrew


    Yes, I wonder how many sanctions the US will pass before it finally decides to sit down and actually try negotiating. No, wait wait, I feel really good about maybe just one more set of sanctions..

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