The U.S.-Iran Nuclear Standoff

Laura Rozen’s got a write-up of Nick Burns’ address to the Council on Foreign Relations. She also points to this NYRB piece by Thomas Pickering, William Luers and Jim Walsh titled, modestly enough, “A Solution to the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Standoff.” Laura was impressed by the longer time horizon Burns gave to resolve the Iran standoff (he believes it will play out at least into 2009), as well as by the more optimistic tone he adopted when discussing possible diplomatic solutions.

Among the potential outcomes he mentioned was the oft-floated idea of a multi-lateral consortium enriching uranium outside Iran, with Russia serving as liaison to deliver nuclear fuel and remove spent fuel. The NYRB piece, on the other hand, proposes a multi-lateral consortium that includes Iran to enrich uranium within Iran, with various contraints attached to the deal. (The piece struck me as slightly stale in some of its observations of the state of play, leaving me wondering when it was actually authored.)

I’m not sure how feasible either approach is, the first because Iran has already rejected it, the second because it seems to offer Iran a gift-wrapped enrichment program should they eventually opt out, in place of their own halting advances. I offer both, though, as alternative views to what I’m posting here on the subject.