The Russian offer to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian territory holds out a good deal of promise for defusing the stalemate between Iran and the world community that has unsettled global oil markets. The situation, which has become increasingly conflictual, appears to be moving irrevocably toward economic sanctions and the possible use of force by the world community against Iran. While the State Department’s initial reaction was that Iran was only stalling, the President indicated support for the Russian proposal at his news conference earlier this week.
Indeed, there are good reasons to believe the Russian proposal might work. It is no more in Iran’s economic interests to engage in continued conflict with the West than it is for the West. Both need Iran to continue to sell oil on global markets. Iran is desperately in need of investment capital to fuel economic growth and satiate the demand for prosperity from its youthful population. Fueling tensions with the West might appease hard-liners and religious fanatics determined to engage in a global campaign of forced Islamicization, but it might just as easily lead to internal instability that holds the potential for a popular uprising threatening regime collapse from within.