George Perkovich provided some very insightful discussion on the subject to the Council on Foreign Relations before these developments were announced. His analysis is that the swap is a good deal for Iran and that President Ahmadinejad and his negotiators recognized this. But when the deal was brought back home, everyone who has ever been irritated by Ahmadinejad rejected it, not because of the deal itself but because of Iran's internal politics.
So this return to the table is something of a face-saver for Iran and a recognition on their part that it is a good deal.
And, gentlemen and ladies of the media, could you resist jumping to conclusions?
The Iranian terms mean an effective rejection of a U.N.-brokered plan designed to delay its ability to build a nuclear weapon. [NYT]I could be wrong about this, but I don't recall that anyone has said this in an official capacity. It is something that the media have concluded, just as too many of them have concluded that Iran is working toward nuclear weapons. We're interested in your analysis, good scribes, but not in your conclusions, much less do we want them to drive the negotiations.
Any fuel swap in Iran would likely be a non-starter for Western powers, which want to delay Tehran's potential to make a nuclear bomb by reducing its LEU stockpile. [Reuters]
[I have been particularly irritated this week at the inability of reporters to look past their game-show mentality as applied to world affairs, of which this is only a small example. James Fallows has more of what I predicted for President Obama's China trip. I have not written that post, not least because thinking about it renders me wordless. Read Fallows.]