Now will you stop?

One of the key ideas in stopping nuclear proliferation is to actually help countries enrich their nuclear fuel and monitor the entire process. A country like Iran which threatens to use its own facilities to enrich fuel can be lent assistance by another country. The goal would be to allow such a country to engage in some preliminary steps of fuel processing (eg. converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride gas). The preliminary processed materials can then be shipped to another country for further processing and enrichment and the enriched fuel could then be returned to the other country. Thus, countries which claim that they want to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should then have no problem in accepting such an arrangement, and it will be much harder for them to then justify indigenous fuel enrichment. Russia seems to be working on such an agreement with Iran, and leading arms expert Pavel Podvig writing in The Bulletin is optimistic about it. Surprisingly, it also seems to have received a semblance of a blessing from His Majesty George Bush the Second:

“It’s possible that by delivering the first 180 fuel assemblies to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on December 16, Russia scored a critical victory for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Early acknowledgement of the event’s importance came from an unlikely source–President George W. Bush. Commenting on the Russian shipment, he publicly urged Iran to now suspend its controversial enrichment program, arguing that with Russian fuel, Iran no longer needed to enrich uranium on its own. Of course, it’s unlikely that Iran will stop its centrifuges–at least not any time soon. But if Washington accepts the shipment of rector fuel to Bushehr as legitimate–despite the continuing controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program–it will set an important precedent that should help build a workable system of fuel supply guarantees.” 

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