In the wake of the ongoing Benghazi investigation, the other news on the foreign policy front that seems to have gone under reported is Iran’s diversion of uranium production to medical usage. This relatively important piece of news appears to have slipped through the rhetoric of the Romney campaign. The conversion of enriched uranium to fuel rods for civilian use is evidence that Iran is not hell-bent on creating a nuclear weapon aimed at Israel. It means that Iran has deliberately slowed down its nuclear program and the critical fuel necessary to produce a nuclear bomb has deliberately been diverted to peaceful use. Iran’s decision proves that the Obama administration’s approach to utilize international support and economic sanctions to force Iran to capitulate and avoid war is working.
Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister and a strong supporter of Obama, said that the Iranian decision may have been prompted by American warnings and a wish to delay any confrontations with Israel until after the election.
Barak told the Daily Telegraph that Iran’s decision to divert 38% of its enriched uranium had “delayed the moment of truth.” The decision also explains why Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told the UN that his "red lines" had receded and it should also explain why Obama saw no urgency to alter his schedule to meet with Netanyahu.
Barak’s comments confirm what Vice President Biden told Ryan during the vice-president debate, "All this loose talk about, 'all they have to do is to get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a nuclear weapon' not true."
Iran’s buildup to nuclear weapon capability has been a dividing point in the foreign policy positions of Romney and Obama. The Obama administration has maintained that Iran is far away from being able to construct a nuclear weapon, while Ryan and Romney have maintained that the regime is “four years closer” to nuclear weapon capability.
Haaretz’ Amos Harel said that the decision to use the enriched uranium for scientific and medical usage will delay the Iranian nuclear program by up to a year.
Iran’s decision to delay its nuclear weapons program was originally reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency in August. The decision lends credence to Obama’s assertion that sanctions are having the intended effect on Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon. More importantly it indicates that Ryan and Romney were aware of this before the debates and chose to ignore the ramifications for political purposes. During the debates not only did Romney and Ryan ignore this information, Ryan compounded it by saying that Iran had enough uranium to create five nuclear bombs. That statement was obviously false and he knew it, and it was immediately refuted by fact checkers.
The Atlantic Sentinel reported that this is not the first time that Iran has bowed to pressure exerted by Western economic sanctions and postponed their nuclear weapons program. In 2003 the program was halted due to mounting international pressure and economic sanctions that were strangling the Iranian economy. The Sentinel explained,
“Tehran’s recent conversion of uranium could be a result of a similar calculation. With the European Union no longer an export market for their crude oil and with Iranian banks struggling to finalize transactions or push trade with many countries in the global financial system, officials in Tehran may be coming to the hard realization that diverting uranium for civilian purposes would stem the pain.”
The New York Times reported that although the sanctions are having an unintended consequence of impacting medical treatment in the country, “The trade measures have led to widespread shortfalls of imported goods and a plunge in the value of the national currency, the rial.”