Optimism and progress are words seldom associated with diplomatic encounters involving Iran. But Tehran's seeming interest in negotiations during the recent talks in Kazakhstan has led to hope in Western capitals that perhaps economic sanctions have finally produced a reliable Iranian interlocutor. As the great powers contemplate a solution to the Iranian nuclear conundrum, they would be prudent to appreciate how Tehran uses diplomacy to complement its quest for nuclear arms.
The Islamic Republic's path to the bomb is contingent on its ability to produce vast quantities of low-enriched uranium while introducing a new generation of high-velocity centrifuges. Both are being produced at an unimpeded pace at the Natanz enrichment plant. Tehran insists that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) gives it the right to construct an industrial-size nuclear infrastructure involving substantial depositories of uranium enriched to 5 percent and cascades of advanced centrifuges. The developments in Natanz, even more so than the hardened, underground Fordow facility, are likely to pave the way for an Iranian bomb.