The New York Times reports that “Iran has tentatively agreed to ship much of its huge stockpile of uranium to Russia if it reaches a broader nuclear deal with the West”. Under the proposal, the Russians would convert Iran’s stockpiled uranium into “specialized” fuel rods for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran’s only commercial reactor. In that form, the Iranian stockpile would, as a practical matter, be un-weaponizable.
This could, indeed, be a breakthrough in talks that had appeared to stall.
To me, the only defensible rationale – politically – for a peaceful Iranian nuclear program was always that, to survive the nation’s reliance on petrodollars and wasting petro-assets, the country needs alternative sources of energy to carry Iran into the future with a diversified economy. (Asserting that Iran needs nukes to counter Israel’s nuclear capability was never a politically viable argument, because it undercut Iran’s insistence that it was not trying to develop nuclear weapons at all.) And the Russia gambit is entirely consistent with that rationale.
Iran’s shift may also suggest that Iran no longer feels it needs nukes to counter a future American attempt at regime change via invasion. Paradoxically, the “weakness” that conservatives see in America’s current aversion to American boots on foreign grounds may be a plus when it comes to getting an agreement with Iran.