Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reactor-for-peace deal with Iran?

Europe is considering building a light-water reactor in Iran as part of a package of incentives to get Iran to give up its domestic uranium-enrichment capability.

McCormack said Tehran would be required to halt its program of enriching and reprocessing uranium on Iranian soil, saying the U.S. and others "do not want the Iranian regime to have the ability to master those critical pathways to a nuclear weapon."

The Iranian reaction? I'll give you one guess.

Hojjatollah Soltani, second secretary of the Iranian Embassy in Venezuela, said such a proposal would acceptable only if it "only if they recognize our right to (use) nuclear technology" — including uranium enrichment.

The deal is similar to the one we offered North Korea back in the 1990s, when we began building them two reactors in exchange for them giving up their nuclear program. Work on the reactors was halted a few years later when it became clear North Korea hadn't given up its own program.

There's no reason to think the outcome will be any different with Iran, but it's a worthwhile offer to make. Reactors take years to build, which provides plenty of time to ensure Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement. And if they reject the deal it's just one more example of Iranian intransigence on this subject.

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