This poses a terrible dilemma, and it is sure to push the United States and the other negotiating parties down one of two difficult paths: The first would be to allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium under more frequent international inspections. The hope here would be to prevent Iran from enriching the uranium it has, which currently is only useful to fuel reactors, up to much higher levels that would only be useful to make bombs.
The reality, however, is that pushing this approach is pointless. Undercutting the Security Council’s unanimous demand for a suspension of fuel-making activities and allowing a nuclear violator, such as Iran, to continue to make nuclear fuel would set a frightening precedent for Iran’s neighbors. Several of these states are already spooked by Iran and considering whether to try acquiring bombs by making their own nuclear fuel. If we gave Iran a green light now, it would only make blocking their future efforts much more difficult.
And even more important, the notion that we could get enough warning of a military diversion from Iran’s fuel-making facilities to intervene and prevent the first weapon from being forged simply defies all we have learned from bitter experience.