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Iran May Ship Uranium to Turkey

In a deal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey, Iran announced today that it would agree to ship 1.200 kilograms of enriched uranium to Turkey for storage. In exchange, after one year, Iran would have the right to receive about 265 pounds of material enriched to 20 percent from Russia and France.

This deal could be a temporary solution to its nuclear standoff with the West. The terms mirror a deal with the West last October that fell apart when Iran backtracked. But it is far from clear that the Obama administration will agree to it now — in part because Iran has continued to enrich uranium, adding to its stockpiles.

At this point, the situation has changed. The amount of uranium that Iran is sending to Turkey is now only half of its stockpile. China and Russia, which have been highly reluctant to impose sanctions on a major trading partner, could use the announcement to end discussions about further measures, representing a fourth round of sanctions.

President Obama now is at a fork in the road. If he walks away from the sanctions against Iran, it will look like he is walking away from an agreements he was willing to sign eight months ago. But if he signs the agreement, the pressing issues he has spoken about regarding Iran will have to wait a year.

Though the agreement was regarded as a positive step by regional experts, and in Tehran it was heralded as a breakthrough, there was also skepticism as to whether it was real or a tactic to transfer blame for the conflict to the West, while derailing the prospect of the United Nations Security Council imposing new sanctions, which appeared possible within weeks.

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