Most recent nuclear arms negotiations fall apart
by Liz O’Malley
Co-Editor in Chief
After two days of negotiating, six world powers–the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, and Germany–have failed to reach an agreement with Iran concerning Tehran’s nuclear intentions.
In hopes of reaching a compromise, the nations offered Iran decreased economic sanctions on precious metals and petrochemicals in return for compliance with denuclearization efforts. As the nations have been working together to curb Iran’s nuclear proliferation since 2006, and have attempted to pass several initiatives since then, progress is yet to be seen, and any kind of settlement remains unlikely.
The discussion focused on halting Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20%, or, in other words, production of higher grade uranium that could potentially be diverted from use for nuclear fuel. The six nations, five being the permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council, have made a variety of demands towards Iran, imploring the country to shut down their nuclear enrichment facility, Fordo. In an attempt to compromise the P5+1 (Germany being the +1) suggested allowing Iran modest nuclear capability under strict UN supervision. Despite the economically crippling sanctions placed on Iran (primarily their oil exports), the country has refused any such negotiation and continues to insist on moving forward with their uranium enrichment program.
Iran wishes to be viewed as responsible enough to enrich uranium without being punished with sanctions or chaperoned by Western countries. Iran smartly argued the hypocrisy of countries with gargantuan nuclear arsenals advising them on the dangers of nuclear weapons, urging nations to “recogni[ze] Iran’s right to enrich uranium.” Iranian political leaders, though typically divided on issues, almost unanimously support nuclear initiatives and refuse to budge on the issue. Iran insists that their nuclear enrichment is peaceful, and is reserved for use as nuclear fuel, and calls for greater trust in the nation.
Without a doubt, the world’s currently tumultuous tensions with North Korea have provoked a more serious review of the Iran’s increasing uranium stockpile. Both Iran and North Korea seem to be wielding their nuclear potential in an effort to garner respect and attention from other nuclear powers, which has worked, for better or worse. Following the example that has been set by North Korea, Iran has learned that by ignoring sanctions and being stubborn about compromise, they are more likely to get what they want than if they were to be complicit. Likewise, seeing the fear that North Korea has stirred amongst the nations, Iran has witnessed a striking example of the power nuclear capability could bring.
Talks ended with each state returning to their respective capitals to think about how to move forward in the face of Iran’s refusal. Though a date has yet to be set for any future conference on the matter, it is hypothesized that Iran is waiting until after their presidential elections in June to resume conversation on the issue.