LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials have told The Associated Press.
The trade-off would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at its Fordo facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections, according to Western officials familiar with details of negotiations now underway. In return, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.
I’m sure there are more consequential giveaways but letting Iran carry out their “research” work in a location that would be especially hard for the U.S. or others to destroy in the event of repeated violations or diplomatic failure seems . . . questionable.
But who knows if it will even be in the deal — since, according to this story from the Times, there won’t even be a written deal. Or there won’t be until this summer — the Iranians reportedly want to just reach a sort of understanding about a set of principles by the end of March (the current deadline for an outline of a deal), with the details to be figured out later.
Just a week or two ago, there were plenty of observers suggesting that a deal won’t be reached by the end of this month (the Obama administration’s position, for instance, was that success is about a 50-50 bet). The above news may indicate that Obama is putting whatever he can on the table to get a deal anyway — but these concessions are getting so absurd, one hopes they may portend the unraveling of the process instead.