McClatchy Newspapers | Did U.S. miss 2010 chance for Iran nuke deal? Turkey says yes
ISTANBUL, Turkey — The United States missed an opportunity to ease concerns about Iran’s nuclear program nearly two years ago when it rejected a carefully negotiated deal that would have allowed Western powers to provide Iran uranium for its nuclear reactors, interviews and new research suggest.
The deal, known as the Tehran declaration, had been put together by the presidents of Brazil and Turkey, whose diplomats devoted enormous energies persuading power brokers in the Iranian government to accept it.
But the U.S. and other powers rejected it because they feared Iran had agreed to its terms only to undercut a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed new sanctions on the government in Tehran.
The rejection of the Tehran declaration takes on new relevancy as the United States and five other major powers sit down with Iran here Saturday in hopes of reviving negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
No one expects a major advance, with the best outcome, diplomats say, an agreement that lays out an agenda for extensive negotiations and improves the atmosphere with the help of “confidence-building” measures by both sides.
One such measure might be an interim “freeze for a freeze,” in which Iran would halt uranium enrichment if the United States and the European Union suspend Europe’s ban on purchases of Iranian oil, due to start in July.
The alternative to near-term progress is a collision course that might start with an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities but could well drag the U.S. and Gulf oil-producing states into war against a well-armed nation of 77 million. Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a mortal threat. President Barack Obama has refused to rule out the use of military force, although he has committed the United States to find a diplomatic resolution.
A Turkish official familiar with the details of the negotiations and the deal told McClatchy in an interview this week that the situation didn’t need to reach its current impasse.
“We believe that the Tehran declaration was a missed opportunity,” the official said. “Iran signed a document that is perhaps the first substantive breakthrough in negotiations in the last 10 years.” The official asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
In the nearly two years since the deal’s rejection, Iran has sped up its enrichment of nuclear material, expanding its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to 5,450 kilograms from 2,000 and has produced 100 kilograms of mid-enriched uranium. Weapons require highly enriched uranium with a purity of 90 percent. It’s also pressed forward with construction of an underground facility at Fordow outside Qom and has begun enrichment there.
FULL ARTICLE (McClatchy)
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