CAMBRIDGE – The announcement of a secret uranium enrichment facility located on a military base in Iran has sharpened President Barack Obama’s efforts to place nuclear proliferation issues at the top of the world agenda. 2010 will be a critical year.
In September, both at the United Nations and at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, many countries agreed to work on Obama’s nuclear agenda. But, in the midst of those meetings, it was revealed that Iran has been secretly building a second enrichment facility with the potential to produce weapons-grade uranium.
In early October, Iranian officials met in Geneva with representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (plus Germany) and agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the hitherto secret plant. In addition, the Iranians said that they would export their existing low-enriched uranium to be fabricated into nuclear fuel outside of Iran.
If these measures are implemented, they will represent important steps. There has been widespread fear that Iran would abrogate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and use its enrichment facilities to develop a nuclear weapon. It is not yet clear whether words will be matched with deeds.