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The Race for Iran

Iran Agrees In Principle to Uranium Swap in Turkey

The Associated Press reported on Friday that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that the Islamic Republic is willing to exchange uranium on Turkish soil as part of an agreement with the P5+1 countries. Previously, the Islamic Republic had only committed to exchanging the fuel on Iran’s own territory.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu indicated that Turkey would be willing to consider such an arrangement and has reportedly discussed the proposal with Obama’s National Security Advisor General Jim Jones.

The Obama administration and the other P5+1 countries should seize this opportunity to put life back into its negotiations with Iran. At the very least, the announcement should help those elements within the Obama administration who truly want to engage Iran to counter calls emanating from Congress and others to go down the strategically bankrupt road of more sanctions and threats.

— Ben Katcher


5 Responses to “Iran Agrees In Principle to Uranium Swap in Turkey”

  1. I am not an expert on this matter, but after reading your article, my understanding has developed considerably. I googled it about this matter and noticed most people would agree with your article. I don

  2. WigWag says:

    Let’s not forget that Turkey has a nuclear arsenal of its own (sort-of). Despite the fact that the Cold War ended about 20 years ago, the United States has forward deployed 200 tactical nuclear weapons throughout Europe. In fact, 90 of these “gravity bombs” (designed to be delivered by aircraft) are located at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey.

    Other than France and Great Britain (which have their own strategic and tactical nuclear arsenals), more nuclear weapons are present on Turkish territory than any other nation in Europe. By way of comparison, the U.S. has forward deployed only 20 of these weapons in Belgium (at Kleine Brogel Air Base), 20 in Germany (at Büchel Air Base), 20 in the Netherlands (at Volkel Air Base) and 50 in Italy (at Aviano Air Base). These weapons were originally intended to deter a Soviet invasion of Europe and were long considered a political plum for those nations that had them; this was especially true of Turkey (which used to brag that the U.S. stationed more nuclear weapons in Turkey than it did in Greece). Of course, these weapons are ostensibly controlled exclusively by the Americans and could never be launched without a direct order of the President of the United States.

    There is some debate about whether Turkey would object to the removal of these 90 warheads. The current government has issued somewhat muddled and tentative statements that they would be willing to see these weapons removed but it is unclear that the Turkish military would support this. In fact, some have suggested that acquiescing to the removal of these weapons is a red line that Turkey’s civilian government had better not cross unless it wants real trouble with the military.

    It has even been suggested that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Turkey will feel obliged to develop its own independent arsenal despite the protestations of the current government that it would not do so.

    Those interested in this subject can begin their research at the website of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The BAS has an extensive archive of material on Turkey, NATO and American tactical nuclear weapons.

  3. Jon Harrison says:

    I wouldn’t be so hard on Obama. There’s every reason to believe that within the constraints imposed by political reality, he wants a deal on nukes and a new relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

    The first thing we need to know is: is this Iranian offer legitimate, or is it merely another feint to keep the U.S. and Israel off balance? The Iranians have to be worried about a possible Israeli air campaign against the nuclear facilities, once the Dec. 31 “deadline” has passed. Recent comments from Israeli officials, not to mention the New York Times running an op-ed (Dec. 24) calling for U.S. airstrikes, can only have an unsettling effect on the Iranian regime. Combine this with an uprising by Iran’s urban population, and you have a real dicey situation — one that I’m not sure is going to be resolved peacefully. The Iranian leadership will not necessarily be brought to its senses by domestic and foreign events; it could react in what to us seems a self-destructive manner.

    My concerns are two: 1. That the Iranian offer may be a ploy and not sincere. 2. That Israel will take advantage of the unrest and confusion in Iran to launch strikes on the nuclear sites, even without a U.S. go-ahead, unless Iran capitulates on the nuke issue. Those of us who are against military action and for a new U.S.-Iranian relationship/partnership should not count our chickens before they’re hatched.

  4. JohnH says:

    Soon we’ll know definitively whether Obama was serious about negotiations or whether he was merely posturing. By making a single, “take it or leave it” offer, he certainly appears to have been trying to dictate surrender, not negotiate a deal. It’s time for change we can believe in, not posturing make-believing.

  5. iran domestic says:

    Have you not been paying attention to Iran’s current domestic situation? Mottaki’s comments do not occur in a vacuum, nor should anything the Iranians say be taken at face value.

    Don’t always blame the Obama administration for its not seizing opportunities in negotiations with Iran. The regime in Tehran has missed numerous opportunities which this blog often overlooks.