Analysis

Failure of Nuclear Talks Increases Chances of Israeli Airstrike
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and head of Iran's national security council Saeed Jalili (right) poses with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during multilateral meetings in Baghdad on the Iranian nuclear program, May 23, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/GettyImages)
May 25, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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Despite significant concessions made by the United States, France, and the UK during multilateral talks this week on its nuclear program, Iran has refused any deal that doesn't involve first dismantling sanctions, a demand the West rejected. While the participants agreed to meet again in Moscow next month, Iran’s intransigence and stunning news today that the IAEA found traces of uranium enriched to 27 percent U-235 have pushed tensions to a new high and raised the chances of an Israeli airstrike on its nuclear facilities.

May 25, 2012, 1600 EDT Update: The International Atomic Energy today said that it found traces of uranium enriched to 27 percent uranium-235 at the Fordow enrichment plant in Iran.  If true, this would represent Iranian efforts to make nuclear fuel that goes substantially beyond what it has declared and probably indicates a new covert enrichment site.  Several analysts have been cautious about this finding, saying that it could represent a technical error. 

In addition to the Baghdad meeting, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to reach agreement with Iran on access to facilities alleged to be associated with nuclear weapons research. Iran appears to be playing for time while judging how hard the international community is willing to push for a comprehensive solution. 

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