Iran could give a positive short-term signal by agreeing to a deal that would remove a substantial portion of its low-enriched uranium stockpile and swap it with more-highly enriched fuel Iran needs to run a medical research reactor in Tehran. Such a deal was almost reached last October before disagreement over the timing of a swap scuttled it.
Talks on such a deal could take up in the coming weeks in either Geneva again or in Turkey, some diplomats have suggested.
“A fuel swap deal could be the kind of confidence-building step needed to allow a process of serious negotiating to deepen in the weeks and months ahead,” says Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington. “But that [fuel swap deal] alone does not address the issues posed by the Iranian nuclear program.”
The Obama administration has two main “priorities” for substantive negotiations with Iran, Kimball says: one is to limit the growth of Iran’s enrichment capabilities, and the other is to persuade Iran to accept an inspection and verification system on its nuclear facilities that is “far more intrusive and far more effective” than the one the International Atomic Energy Agency currently has operating in Iran.