A Russian plan aimed at satisfying the world that Tehran's atomic aims are peaceful has won tentative backing from the United States and the European Union's top powers, diplomats said on Thursday.
Under the proposal, supported by France, Britain and Germany, known as the EU3, and Washington, Iran would keep part of its atomic fuel production program if the most sensitive part, uranium enrichment, was scrapped and moved to Russia, diplomats say.
U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who supports the compromise, said he hoped a deal would be reached soon.
'He hopes that in the coming days the international community will be able to coalesce around a solution that is acceptable to all parties, including Iran,' the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
Diplomats, however, were skeptical that Iran would join the proposed Russian joint venture, as that would mean Tehran renouncing enrichment, which it says it will never do.
I remain convinced that Iran wants nuclear weapons far more than it wants nuclear power. If they could be convinced that such a desire was unattainable (read: we'll hit them with a big stick if they try) they would likely to go along with this proposal as a face saving measure.
I highly doubt that they believe that the big stick exists though. Certainly the EU and Russia are unlikely to smack them down, and unlikely to even support a U.S. attempt to do so.
While we have the capability to smack them hard, with a pure air war if nothing else, it is questionable whether we have the political will to do so, especially unilateraly.
My predictions are that Iran will not agree to this. After that, we will see. Most likely George Bush will find it politically impossible to take direct action. It will be interesting to see how President Hillary Clinton handles the situation though.