After months of precarious balance and rebuffs by Iran to offers from the West, President Ahmadenijad announced today that Iran has struck a deal with Turkey and Brazil to swap over 2,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium in exchange for 20% enriched uranium. It’s a small, incremental step, but it could signal what some are referring to as “the return of plan B,”—a shift away from the polarized sides of Iran vs. the U.S. + the rest of the world and such black-and-white options as sanctions vs. bombing. It certainly marks the debut for emerging superpowers Turkey and Brazil in a deal that at least publicly left out the U.S. entirely, although it closely mirrored a plan drafted by the Obama administration and rejected by Iran last Fall. The agreement seems unlikely to actually stop Iran from continuing to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities but could be it the first step in repositioning the stale mate? And how will the U.S. figure into that newly rebalanced picture?
David Rothkopf, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where he chairs the Carnegie Economic Strategy Roundtable