Iran has tentatively agreed to ship much of its enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be made into nuclear-reactor fuel rods, if it reaches a broader nuclear deal with the P5+1, David Sanger reported Oct 3 in the New York Times. One American deeply involved in the discussions said, "if the Iran-Russia deal works, it could be the cornerstone of something much larger." Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the head of the U.S. negotiating team, said recently, without further details, that "we have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable."
One American expert, Angela Stent of Georgetown, said that if Russia salvages the Iran talks, it would be reprising the role it played in Syria negotiations last year, when it came up with a formula that led President Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons stockpiles. Indeed so, and just as important.
The point is that if most present and future enriched uranium is removed to Russia, the current disagreement about the number of uranium-enrichment centrifuges Iran is allowed to keep is much less important, and the so-called "breakout time" to achieving a nuclear weapon could become long enough to satisfy the U.S. position.
This week, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has his first meeting with the new EU External Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini. Then, Zarif and US Secretary of State Kerry will meet over the weekend in Oman. Oman's ruler is a confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who will have the final say over any reduction of enriched uranium stockpiles.
The most immediate importance of a successful Iran nuclear deal, which has a Nov 24 deadline, is that the U.S. Joint Chiefs' plan for a real war on IS (unlike Obama's fake war), includes reaching a longer-term agreement with Iran over IS, immediately after a nuclear deal is concluded. The appearance of this New York Times story on election eve, as US military and Democratic Party leaders are closing in to eliminate or reduce Obama's power right after the election, is also significant.
Sanger's account is false in one respect: he contradicts himself in one paragraph, where he writes that the agreement under discussion would provide that Russia will enrich uranium for Iran. That is untrue: rather, Russia will receive uranium enriched by Iran and fabricate it into fuel rods to ship back, as he writes elsewhere. For some reason, the Times has so far refused to correct this obvious error.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had said as early as Oct 22 that was studying such a proposal, but this was not covered in the Western press.