Bloomberg View editors propose a list of ways President Obama can “remake the world” in 2013. Among them, they say: offer Iran a deal that would allow it to conduct 3.5% enrichment for energy purposes, in exchange for tighter IAEA monitoring and verification:
On Iran, the U.S. should continue to lead the global sanctions effort. Yet it should simultaneously reopen the door to a deal under which Iran complies with International Atomic Energy Agency demands on monitoring, access and information, and halts nuclear fuel production — with the exception of enriching uranium to the maximum 3.5 percent level that is required to fuel civilian power stations, a level of enrichment that’s a red line for Iran. A fully monitored Iranian low-enrichment program entails risks and may not satisfy the government in Israel. But it has as good a chance of blocking Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon as airstrikes, with fewer risks and unintended consequences.
The emerging consensus?
Earlier this month, Jean-David Levitte, the former diplomatic advisor to France's hawkish former Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozky, also proposed offering Iran a last-ditch, take it or leave it deal that would allow it to enrich to 3.5%, Jim Hoagland reported at the Washington Post last week (Dec. 28):
Levitte suggests that the international community must now go either/or on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Iran finally agrees to restrict nuclear enrichment to 5 percent or less and exports its stockpile of higher-grade enriched uranium. Or the United States, having made this high-profile final effort, will gain broader international acceptance of an American-led military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability at some point in 2013.
The Levitte idea echoes the “go big” idea advocated by former White House Iran advisor Dennis Ross. But what's notable is that it's coming from France, (albeit from a former government advisor), which has traditionally been the most reluctant member of the P5+1 to consider Iran being granted international recognition of the right to enrich.
If that's the position of a top advisor to the former more hawkish Sarkozy government, presumably the Hollande government could also be persuaded to sign on to a deal in which Iran's right to enrich would be recognized as a part of a negotiated settlement.