Obama on Iran talks: “A constructive beginning”

posted at 4:17 pm on October 1, 2009 by Allahpundit

The media seems more interested in the two-week deadline he lays down here for UN inspections at the Qom enrichment site (which will be met, I’m sure) but the real news comes at 1:35 when he talks about an agreement in principle to send some of Iran’s low-enriched uranium to another country so that it can be turned into fuel for nuclear power. What’s potentially significant about that? The Daily Beast explains:

President Obama’s statement about a confidence-building measure from Iran this afternoon left out the key detail: In a breakthrough agreement at talks in Geneva, Iran has agreed to send 1,200 kilograms of enriched uranium to Russia for further processing, two diplomats told the Daily Beast, noting this would mean Iran no longer has enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon…

Under the deal reached today, the two diplomats told the Daily Beast, Iran has now however agreed to send this uranium, which is enriched up to 3.5 percent, to be refined in Russia up to 19.75 percent enrichment and then returned to Iran. That enrichment level would enable it to be used at a research reactor in Tehran which could then burn the fuel to make medical isotopes. But it is not high enough for nuclear weapons.

The diplomats said this deal effectively amounts to a freeze of Iran’s nuclear work, and meets the condition for a second phase of talks at which nuclear issues will be discussed, as well as other proposals put forth by both sides.

If you believe that Iran only has 1,500 kg or so of low-enriched uranium on hand and if you believe there are no other secret Iranian enrichment/weaponization sites, then this is important. Remember, uranium isn’t bomb-capable unless it’s highly enriched, i.e. up to a 90 percent level; if Iran’s serious about wanting nuclear power but not a nuclear weapon, then its uranium only has to be enriched to a low level to be converted into fuel. Having Russia or some other third party take over enrichment duties is a way to make sure that the uranium is only processed to that lower threshold, not the higher one (unless, of course, you think Vladimir Putin would lie). If you don’t believe either of those things, though, then this logic goes out the window: Iran could simply feed Russia some low enriched uranium in order to soothe western fears about its nuke program while continuing to weaponize uranium in its secret facilities. Even if Iran’s on the level and is willing to send its entire current uranium stockpile to an outside party for processing, the machinery to weaponize uranium would still remain in place, ready and willing to go whenever Tehran decides to restart the program. In other words, unless Iran is willing to either disclose its remaining secret sites or agree to very intrusive inspections” to determine whether any secret sites exist or not, then at best this is simply buying time. Which isn’t a terrible outcome — it gives Mousavi’s green movement a little space to try to unseat the regime, after all — but it’s kicking the can down the road, not resolving the issue.

More talks are coming, apparently, perhaps at a higher level next time. Exit statistics via the new Fox News poll: 61 percent are willing to use force against Iran if need be and 69 percent think Obama hasn’t been tough enough. Number who say they’re worried about Iran getting nukes: 77 percent, which I guess is a further reminder of why Ron Paul will never be president.

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Number who say they’re worried about Iran getting nukes: 77 percent, which I guess is a further reminder of why Ron Paul will never be president.

That, and him being a nutter.

Iran has now however agreed to send this uranium, which is enriched up to 3.5 percent, to be refined in Russia up to 19.75 percent enrichment and then returned to Iran.

Russia ? Yes, Medvedev and Putin are so trustworthy…

I love it. Obama’s been in office for just 8 months and has already gotten far more progress on the issue than Bush did in 8 years. Thus, all AP can muster to weakly mewl that the issue isnt completely resolved.

orange on October 1, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Yes, that progress was clearly displayed when obama gave up that European nuclear shield and announced US nuclear disarmament.

runner on October 1, 2009 at 7:26 PM

We can all sleep better knowing that Obama is on the job…

Seven Percent Solution on October 1, 2009 at 7:27 PM

America’s Twinkie-in-Chief is fast losing the world’s respect: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YWQyODRhYzVhZmU0ZTdmZjQxMmZjNTdhZmUwMmUxMGQ=

onlineanalyst on October 1, 2009 at 7:28 PM

“Our patience is not unlimited.”

But Obama’s stupidity is…..

NoFanofLibs on October 1, 2009 at 7:30 PM

I know that Obama is a meat puppet. But, I think we should have a little (albeit slight) trust in who his Military advisers are. I hope that this issue can be resolved because it is a major concern for all Nations.

Now, if this fails? It’s his to own. The man needs to quit with the hollywood jet setting “I’m sacrificing while libbin high on the hog”, and get his azz to work. He wanted it. Now he needs to not just own it, it needs to WORK to own it.

Key West Reader on October 1, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Unfit. Impeach.

gopmom on October 1, 2009 at 8:09 PM

Krauthammer is clobbering Nancy Soderberg on The Factor over Iraq sanctions. REGIME CHANGE!

Philly on October 1, 2009 at 8:10 PM

“A constructive beginning”

So was Austria. In the late 1930’s.

BobMbx on October 1, 2009 at 8:16 PM

Gird your loins.

TN Mom on October 1, 2009 at 8:34 PM

Commander and thief is far to busy pontification to protect the world from evil.

Wingnut on October 1, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Still, I’m lacking perspective:
1) It’s taken Iran all this time to get up to 3.5 percent? Based on our best estimates of their current technology, how much longer does it take to enrich to 20 percent, or even 90 percent?
2) What does 1,200 Kg of uranium really mean? Is this a lot, or a drop in the bucket? Enough for one, two, three bombs? What sort of estimates do we have on worldwide uranium production, and does this represent a big chunk?

John the Libertarian on October 1, 2009 at 5:37 PM

1. There are many different commercial nuclear power reactor designs, but most currently are light water reactors that use fuel rods with around 4% U235. It takes a relatively short period of time to take 4% enriched UF6 up to 90% enriched, using the same centrifuges in a slightly different configuration.

2. 1200 kg of 3.5% U235 is approximately enough for one atomic bomb when enriched to 90% level. Iran has one uranium mine which is a poor source for uranium. This is why Iran’s agreement with Venezuela to exploit their uranium deposits is alarming.

Most of this information is from wiki and searches under nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment levels, and Iran uranium mining.

GnuBreed on October 1, 2009 at 9:16 PM

The whole world is laughing at him and he doesn’t even know it.

tatersalad on October 1, 2009 at 9:17 PM

This idiot is gullible. This idiot is….an idiot. He’s not a leader, he’s not a strategist, and he’s so egotistical and narcissistic he won’t take the advice of any leader or strategist. He’s a bumbling ass, and unfortunately we don’t have the will to UNelect this bum.

We’re screwed till 2012, and we may be at war with Iran by then.

As payment for that, I think on his last day we serve him with an indictment for treason.

Spiritk9 on October 1, 2009 at 10:17 PM